8 Steps To Create A Convincing Case Study
When it comes to the subject of case studies, a lot of marketers wonder if they’re really that important to have on your website.
To answer that question, let’s take a look at a simple scenario:
You want to buy a pair of hiking boots online. Where do you begin your search?
You might visit Amazon where you might try a few search queries after which you narrow down the selection to about three or four options.
Aside from having a penchant for a particular brand (and your budget of course) what’s the most important factor that's going to influence your buying decision?
I'm guessing you would NOT want to buy a product that has a lot of negative feedback.
For you, the winner is likely going to be the product that has lots of positive reviews that show its use in various conditions, preferably the same as where you intend to use it. Am I right?
No matter what it is you want to buy - whether it's a pair of shoes, a shirt, or a car, you obviously want to see proven, real-world examples of the product’s success before you actually buy it.
In a very similar way, your customers also want that kind of assurance. If you offer services on your website, you may find that a lot of your customers want to see a complete case report detailing your workflow.
No matter what it is you’re offering on your website, you can be sure that customers want real-world examples of how that product or service is going to impact them or their business over the long-term.
The best way that you can demonstrate the unique value of your products or services is through creating a user case study.
But before we go any further, it's important to note that because there are so many companies pushing out fake case reports, a lot of people are going to look at them with doubt and skepticism.
If you are worried that people are not going to be convinced after you publish your case study, you don't need to be.
Later on in this post, we're going to take a look at how to create your case study in a way that will be most likely to turn ideal prospects into real paying customers.
But first, let's take a look at the benefits of using case studies on your website.
Benefits of Using Case Studies
A case study is a great way of letting the world know how valuable your product or service is.
Case studies go beyond mere testimonials and they show real-life examples of the different ways in which you are able to cater to your customers' needs and how you can help them sate their desires and accomplish their dreams.
A great case study will allow you to highlight your success in a way that is likely to turn your ideal prospect into a paying customer. Below, we take a look at some tips to help you create case studies that will be powerful assets for soliciting business.
Now that you know everything you need to know about what case studies are, why you need them on your website, and how they can benefit your business moves toward your goals, it's time to take a look at the steps you need to take to create the best case studies for your site.
It's important to follow the steps because a well-crafted case report will be a massive help in generating more business leads. But it has to be the right type of case report, otherwise, it won’t get effective results.
Once you know how to craft and structure your case study properly, you'll be able to use it tactfully to derive successful long-term results in your business.
8 Steps To Create A Convincing Case Study
1. Who Does Your Ideal Customer Relate to?
Who is your ideal customer, and who do they relate to? If they are in the automobile industry, you can make your case study about manufacturers of auto parts and accessories.
If they are in the education industry, your case study can be about university students and so on.
The goal here is to make sure that after reading your case studies, your ideal customer feels that:
You know and understand their industry
You have a firm grasp of their industry-specific needs
You can provide targeted results within that industry
You can think about this on a much smaller level, like when you're reading a blog post on ‘How to create an online marketing strategy’. Such a post would typically be geared toward the majority or average readers.
However, if you came across a post that was specifically designed to cater to your needs (such as, for example, ‘How to create an online marketing strategy for the automobile industry’) you'll be a lot more likely to consume, understand, and apply that information.
The same applies when looking at case studies. When people read about other people's results that they achieved in the industry, they start to feel that those same products or services could work for them, too.
2. Tell Your Story
People love reading stories.
The best case studies are those that allow readers to really get to know who the people in the case studies are, including:
Who the sample customer is and what they do
What the customer's goals were
What the customer’s needs were
How you satisfied those needs and helped that customer to meet their goals
One of the main reasons for creating this type of case study is to help eliminate all the doubts that your prospects might have.
So this is the time for you to find all the objections that your customers might come up with and then we've your story around each of them.
Provide use details that not only support the value of your product or service but also help the potential customer to visualize their own future success. You’ll have a much easier time converting that prospect if you earn their trust first.
One more thing you could do is to follow up with those customers mentioned in your case study for an update a few months later so that you can show that your products or services continue to offer long-term benefits for that customer.
This gives readers the chance to see that you’re not only about helping them with their immediate needs but that you’re also about ensuring long-term results.
3. Format for Easy Reading
As you well know, no one likes to read huge blocks of text.
I don't care how interesting or informative that content might be, anyone will get annoyed and likely give up if they have to read an entire essay with no formatting or images to break up the text.
Make sure that you use effective content formatting elements in your case studies, the same as you would with the blog posts and articles on your website.
Bolded or italicized text
And so on...
These formatting elements not only provide amazing SEO value for that case study page but they also help readers (particularly those who like to skim) to easily find important parts in your case study.
When readers can easily find important information in your content, it leaves a very good impression of what your business can do for them.
4. Include Lots of Statistics
If your case study is going to state that you "doubled website visitors" for someone, people reading the case study will obviously wonder if that means that traffic went from 50 visits to 100, or if it went from 50,000 to 100,000 visits.
There are a lot of different ways of displaying numbers that can have ambiguous meanings.
You need your case study to be as clear as possible. So rather than just stating that you doubled traffic for a customer (or whatever else it is you're dealing with) show readers the real numbers and, whenever possible, real proof.
Just keep in mind when creating a case study that not everyone who reads it will be familiar with that technology in the same way you are. So make sure that when you use screenshots, you highlight the information they should notice on the image.
Make it easy for your readers to see where your customer began, the journey they traveled on, and where they ended up – with your help.
This shows them the real, tangible results. Picture proof also helps your readers to envision what you could possibly do for them, which helps to make your case study a lot more powerful and convincing.
5. Include Specific Strategy
Continuing with the example above, so you've doubled your customer’s traffic (or leads or sales, etc.), right? How did you achieve this?
This is the point where you start to sell your product or service. All you have to do is to state which one(s) you used and show readers how those things led to the customer’s results.
So instead of just saying ‘Our digital marketing services helped to achieve these results’, you might say:
‘It was the simultaneous use of a social media campaign that is focused on Facebook and YouTube ads and content marketing focused on link building for three months which led to higher rankings and brand exposure - both of which led to these results’).
Or something to that effect… Just be specific when talking strategy.
6. Use Customer Quotes
Be careful when it comes to the use of your customer quotes.
These are going to play a very essential role in making your case study as authentic as possible. Using quotes within your case reports is a powerful tool for content marketing that you cannot afford to ignore as it helps to drive readers toward conversion.
In order to ensure that you pull only strong quotes that will add a lot of weight to your case report as well as demonstrate your immense value proposition, try to get a quote from your target buyer’s point of view.
For instance, if the person in your case study was the decision-maker in charge of making the choice of whether or not to use your product, you can quote that person.
If the decision-making involved two people, quote them both.
7. Appeal to Various Types of Learners
Your audience is made up of a lot of different types of people, and while some of them may enjoy reading, others might prefer audio, video, or some other type of visual representation of the case study.
This means you need to consider repurposing your text-based case study as a different type of content, such as:
A YouTube video
And so on
One of the main advantages of using YouTube videos, infographics, etc. is that these types of content are extremely easy to share.
This means that your case study might go a lot further than just sitting on your own website.
More shares mean you get a lot more potential customers finding out about all the different ways they could benefit from using your products and services.
8. Make Your Case Study Easy to Find
There's no point in having an amazing case study if no one is ever going to read it right?
Make sure that all the case reports on your website are organized well and easy for readers to find. A good example of how you can do this is Drupal.org where you can easily search for and find specific case studies on the website.
The Bottom Line
As you've seen, creating a case study doesn't have to be as complicated as many would think. In fact, it might even be as simple as just finding the right customers and asking them the right questions in an interview.
However, keep in mind that as with all other types of content that you create online, you have to make your content as interesting and unique as possible so it stands out from all the rest.
So instead of taking the easy way out, do your best to ensure that your case study is going to be different from all the other case studies found in your industry.
Offer unique statistics and thought-provoking insights to keep your readers engaged and coming back for more.
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Updated: Originally published June 2nd 2019