Case Study Checklist: Guaranteeing Successful Case Studies
Case Study Checklist: Guaranteeing Successful Case Studies
Companies love to talk about their products and benefits, but prospects may not fully buy into the hype without real-world examples of how those products and services can lead to customer success. Case studies are hard proof of a particular solution or service’s impact and an excellent tool to generate leads and convert hesitant prospects into buyers. Indeed, there is no better way of demonstrating how customers can get results with a specific solution than with a case study that speaks to a particular use case. Producing a first-hand customer testimony is gold dust for selling all kinds of products and services. One survey of B2B marketers ranked case studies as the most effective content format, with 66% of respondents identifying them as “very effective”.
However, building these customer stories is easier said than done. Not only can it be hard to cull and curate quotes and find customers willing to spend time recounting their experience, but it also requires a specific writing style. In the worst cases, a poorly written case study could even undermine your efforts to attract new customers and harm relationships with existing ones.
With that in mind, let’s look at five key factors to check off when producing a successful case study.
Showcase Key Use Cases
When working with a customer to select a specific project to highlight, it’s best to showcase an initiative with a strong link between their success and your product. Having a clear and obvious link between your offering and your customer’s success will make it easier to produce concise stories that keep readers engaged because you won’t have to make tenuous connections.
A case study should be a before and after snapshot of the aspects of your customer’s business that have evolved, transformed, or improved thanks to your solution. By highlighting a key use case in this way, prospects will find it much easier to see how your product could help them with their own business challenges.
Spotlight Your Customer’s Story
The most engaging case studies are compelling stories with clearly defined beginnings, middles, and ends. When interviewing your customer, focus on questions that will help form a powerful narrative. What challenges were they facing, their journey to overcome them, and how did your services or solutions aid in that transformation?
It’s important to remember that while a case study is about your business, it shouldn’t be all about yourself. Instead, ensure your customer is the hero of the piece. By showing how your customer went from having a problem to solving it with your product, prospects can better envision how you could help them on their own journey.
Quality Over Quantity
According to one study, 43% of readers skim content rather than reading it in full, meaning many don’t have the time or attention to digest a three-page case study. That’s why it’s vital to emphasise quality and impact over long-windedness, whether they take the form of a short infographic or a longer article. In this example produced for one of our clients, key statistics are presented up front, the structure clearly delineates issues, changes, and results, and the content is informative and concise.
Don’t obsess over word count and inflate your case study with unnecessary words. If the story happens to be around 400 words, there’s nothing wrong with that — provided it gets your point across and tells the story effectively.
Make It Relatable
Case studies enable you to humanise your brand and show how you connect with your customers. When interviewing a customer, ask them to expand on their relationship with you through questions like:
- What sets our solution apart from potential competitors?
- How did we help you to achieve your goals?
- What was your experience like working with us?
By doing so, you’ll find it easier to craft a narrative that helps prospects put themselves in the shoes of the customer, making it easier for them to understand how they could benefit from those same products or services. Highlighting the strength of your existing relationships also helps boost your credibility – particularly if your case study participant has a strong reputation in their field.
Including facts and statistics about your customer’s business boosts your credibility and your readers’ confidence. Avoid unqualified statements about the strength of your offering and instead include high-impact statistics from your customers, like return on investment (ROI), productivity increases, and cost savings.
One effective choice is to front-load statistics for maximum effect, ensuring the reader’s eyes are drawn to the most impressive facts about your business.
There is, however, a danger of overindulging in statistics to the point of boring your audience with a piece of content that looks more like a spreadsheet than a case study. Instead, focus on a few key statistics that help tell the story. This means skimming readers, who gravitate towards facts and figures, will still be left with an accurate impression even if they don’t read the entire document.
Showcase Your Customers’ Success
By now, you should have a good idea of how to best relay your customers’ stories, and how to showcase your company’s role in their journey. Recounting these cases in an engaging and effective way begins by asking the right questions. Finding out the key elements of your customer’s relationship with your product or service makes it easier to create a narrative about how you helped them go from problem to solution – ideally backed up by credibility-demonstrating statistics and data.
A well-written case study is an excellent way to proudly display your best practices to the world. But following the checklist is just the beginning. Choosing the right format, creating attractive graphics, and reaching a broad audience are all important factors to consider once the foundation is built. Partnering with a marketing team can help you make the most of your existing relationships and transform them into compelling content that attracts new customers to your business.
To learn more about how Instinctive Solutions can help you create compelling case studies, visit our case study page.