How to Create a Compelling Case Study
From passing along traditions to sharing cautionary tales, storytelling has been an effective and popular form of communication for centuries.
Stories are powerful because they help us see things from others’ perspectives and learn about their experiences–which can be valuable when it comes to making decisions for our own lives.
It’s no wonder that case studies–the professional world’s equivalent terminology for “stories”–have become one of the most effective content formats to guide consumers in making their purchase decisions.
According to B2B Marketing, case studies are the most effective content format, with 66% of the 112 B2B marketers surveyed saying that case studies were “very effective”, while 32% said they were “quite effective.”
White Papers (48%) and infographics (45%) followed in second and third place.
It makes sense–who hasn’t had that thought, “If she had a great experience buying X from Y, maybe it could work for me, too!”?
It goes without saying that you think what you’re selling is great. However, what prospects really want to know is how others have benefited from your products and services.
Whether you already use case studies to bring in new business, or you’ve had it on your to-do list for a while, read on to find out how to create them in a compelling and effective manner.
Finding the right candidate.
The happy and satisfied client you choose to profile makes all the difference in the quality of the case study. It’s helpful to set up an interview with the chosen client (if permitted) in order to glean insights into how your offerings positively impacted him or her.
When it comes to selecting a client and the associated success to represent the power of what you have to offer via your products and services, try to select…
A client you provided really amazing results for. Obviously, you want to select a client that experienced a great amount of success–but it can be more impactful if he’s a client from an industry that you don’t usually work with. This can help to remove doubts from future prospects who may also be nontraditional customers for your business.
A client that had a challenge your prospects can easily relate to. It’s best if you have a client whose challenge can be clearly described in a way that prospects can relate to. It’s also helpful to have a case in which you have the opportunity to describe certain key features of your product or service in action.
A client with a notable name. If you’ve had the fortune of having a client whose name or brand is recognizable by the majority of your customers, try to use him or her! The name will give weight to the story and success.
Asking the right questions.
When conducting the interview with the profiled client, your aim is to get the scoop on how your product or services were a game-changer for him or her.
The key is to ask questions that draw out the necessary elements to include in the case study.
Here are a few starting ideas:
- What pain points were you experiencing before you used our product or service?
- How did you go about making the decision to buy our product or service?
- What was the outcome of using our product or service? What were the specific benefits for you and/or your business?
*Note: Make sure you ask for any statistical data that you can use within the case study to demonstrate concrete metrics of success.
Structuring your case study.
You’ve interviewed your case study client and have the data needed. What happens next requires some artistry and skill.
You’ll need to use this information and channel it into a concise and impactful story that
will move your prospects to action.
Keep the following in mind:
Make sure your title encapsulates the gist of the success. The title of your case study should grab people’s attention and, right off the bat, demonstrate how your product/service helped a client.
For example, we have a case study titled “How Strategy, Quality Copy, and Precise Programming Fueled a Million-Dollar Launch.”
The title alone already communicates the extraordinary results achieved, and using the word “how” leaves the reader curious to continue consuming the case study.
Introduce your client, the goals, and the challenge faced. Paint the picture in a way that allows your readers to put themselves in the shoes of your profiled client, and bring their challenges to life. It can be helpful to use numbering or bullets to break down the specific aspects of the challenge.
Introduce the product or service the client used. It’s time to shine! If you sell a product, use this section to highlight the features that addressed your client’s issues. If you fulfilled on a service-specific offering, describe how you/your team delivered in a way that tackled the client’s challenge head-on.
Show how it solved the challenge and concretely delivered value. This is your chance to show evidence of success. Describe the results your client achieved after using your product or service, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Solid metrics will speak volumes for your intended audience. For example, did the client see a certain percentage increase in sales, or save a certain amount of time after using your product?
If you have any results that can be visually represented, definitely include photo evidence or graphs. Lastly, don’t forget to show enthusiasm about the success achieved.
If possible, try to use direct quotes from the client that speak to the results, describe what the client liked about your product or service, and why he or she chose to work with you over your competitors.
Invite prospects to achieve similar results. After sharing the story of success, include a CTA and invite your prospects to contact you, sign up, or purchase. Be sure to re-iterate that the success of your profiled client isn’t unique to him or her, and that other businesses and individuals can achieve similar results and success.
Because they provide real-world examples of customers who benefited from buying a product or service, case studies are one of the most sure-fire ways to convert new customers.
Even if prospective customers don’t personally know the people who are sharing their experiences, prospects will trust your past clients’ words over your own guarantees and promises regarding your products or services.
After reading this post, it may be helpful to see an actual case study example to use for reference when creating your own. We’re happy to share our case study, “How one custom online sales funnel sold 6 figures of product” for your benefit!