Case studies tend to be the most valuable form of content for my clients. That’s why we always start with case studies when I begin working with a new client.
Case studies are the most useful piece of content because they provide the proof that we need to confirm that a business can deliver the results or outcomes prospects are looking for. No matter what kind of product or service, case studies show us the kinds of companies the vendor has had success with and the reader can use that to determine whether or not they want to pursue further discussions with the company.
In the past case studies were often boring, but they don’t have to be. They should tell a story that includes a beginning, middle and end. The more details you can include as you tell the story, the more a prospect will remember what you do and what you do well. Ideally, interviews should always be part of collecting the data to ensure you also collect the anecdotal comments that convey an emotional connection to the vendor. Sure, we definitely want to hear about the quantifiable results and outcomes, but we also want to hear how the client connects with the vendor and what’s important to that client.
In order to deliver successful case studies, there are a few critical steps to follow.
It’s About the Reader
Remember that all content is about the reader. The reader doesn’t care about you and your wonderful software, they only care about how that software makes their life easier and solves their problems. Be sure to focus on letting potential customers know how they can reap the same benefits described in the case study.
Great case studies focus on the customer problem that was solved. Focusing on the problems your products and services solve allows the reader to relate to the relief the client experienced. You don’t want the case study to come off too sales oriented–simply tell the story as it happened and share the measureable improvements attained.
Include Verbatim Comments
Take the perspective of the buyer. The prospective buyer wants to know how similar they are to the customer discussed in the case study, they want to be able to identify with that user. Incorporating direct quotes or testimonials from the client are very powerful with prospective clients.
Readers know that case studies are produced by the vendor, but they also know that the vendor isn’t going to put something out there that the client didn’t actually say. This is the chance for the reader to see a third party’s point of view and you want to make the most of that.
People read case studies because they deliver the social proof we’re looking for that confirms a product or service delivers results. Case studies without customer quotes are much less believable.
Quantify the Results
If you can provide results and outcomes in numbers this helps your case tremendously. It enhances your trust and credibility simply because you were diligent about monitoring and recording results. General statements about saving money and saving time are not that interesting. We all want to know how much money was saved or how much less time did it take to perform the same activities. Numbers add trust and credibility.
Include Visual Proof
In B2B, we also need visual proof. Screenshots or charts and graphs provide the details that can make the case study aesthetically pleasing. A page full of text is not inviting for anyone, regardless of the importance. We all need visual stimulation so be sure to add some product images or even put the customer quotes in call-out boxes to give the eyes a break from text.
These points will help you deliver engaging case studies that are also visually appealing. The key to success is ensuring you can tell a quality story that meets the needs of the organization. Stories make the situation and the solution memorable.