Customer case studies are by far one of the most effective tools that marketers have at their disposal.
Why so matter-of-fact?
Because case studies are born out of demonstrated, real world experience, not cooked up in a marketing test kitchen. Well, maybe they are cooked up to a certain extent — after all, it’s probably a marketer doing the writing — but good case studies, like a nice meal, are made with tangible, freshly harvested, quality ingredients.
Moreover, they’re assembled with the skillful technique of a true artist-scientist. For your case study, that means someone who can tell a compelling story using the real numbers at their disposal.
The good news is that there’s plenty of recipes out there to follow — and you can always improvise on an existing recipe to make it truly your own — so follow the tips throughout this post to ensure your next case study is more appetizing than the last.
Mix up the format
For many, case studies have become nearly synonymous with written blog posts or downloadable PDFs, but the best case study format is the one that resonates most effectively with your prospective clients.
Podcast? Video? Interview? Joint Webinar?
These are all fantastic options.
This is especially true if you have a healthy following on a specific social media platform or other type of content series. For example, if you’re already producing a consistent video series or podcast, consider a special episode that features your client as the guest.
Don’t present it plainly as a case study, per se. Adjust the presentation to the given format, and hit the traditional case-study points in a way that feels more native to that particular format. In a podcast interview, for example, tee up a good question around the challenges your client was facing before you worked together, and let them run with it. Chances are, they’ll segue naturally into singing your company’s praises from there.
Choose your subject wisely
Don’t get too distracted by the highest dollar figure win or the most recognizable brand you’ve done business with. These things could carry their own weight if spoken to in an effective way – but what we’re aiming for in a customer success story is attracting new clients that:
- Fit within your established area of expertise, and can envision themselves experiencing similar success because they see you as a trusted expert within that segment.
- Fit within the space you’re looking to transition into.
We all want to show off the work we did for a well-known client, but before venturing down that path, ask yourself if that engagement really demonstrates your best work.
If so, by all means, ask if they’d like to be involved in a case study. But if that work isn’t showing off your bread and butter services, demonstrating an impressive value to the client, or indicative of where you’re aiming to go as a company in the future, reevaluate if they’re the right case study subject for you.
Instead, think of your ideal customer, and pick an example of a recent customer win that would resonate with them.
Set the stage
Talk about the specific challenges the client faced. Write for empathy from the audience, in a way that’s specific enough to shine light upon the subject company’s challenges, but leaves room for the audience to relate to those challenges more personally.
It’s helpful to introduce an element of storytelling here. A customer case study presents the rare opportunity in business to bring a reader through an entire narrative complete with Setting, Characters, Conflict, and Resolution. Make your high school English teacher proud.
Focus on the numbers
Executive quotes and “better together” stories are fantastic tools within a case study, but don’t force your audience to read between the lines when it comes to the big win you want to convey. Let your audience see the cold hard numbers – or at least give them an idea of the scale, and the specific percentage improvements that your client saw by working with you.
Additionally, include specific figures about the customer. (Industry, region, number of employees, and annual revenue are good ones to start with) to give a frame of reference to your reader.
We understand: Sometimes you and your client aren’t going to agree on the level of fidelity in the data that you want to make public. If that’s the case, ask them if they’d be open to disclosing the scale in another way.
For example: Company Y saw their Customer Loyalty and Retention Rate improve by 23% within their EMEA client base, which numbers in the tens of thousands.
Case studies continue to be one of the most effective ways to showcase what your company can offer a client. No marketing mumbo jumbo, no posturing in pursuit of a first client – just well-earned, quantifiable results that you can proudly share with the world.
Just remember, the key to a good case study lies in the quality of the ingredients and the skill of the chef.
Looking for inspiration? Download our free template to begin writing today!