In fact, some claim that case studies are the most effective content format for B2B lead generation.
Here is a short checklist you can use to create a case study prospects respond to.
1. Focus on Your Ideal Customers
The case study example you choose should represent the types of customers you hope to attract. For instance, a marketing company that wants to gather more banking clients should choose to write a case study about a bank. Writing about a similar field and company that you hope to attract shows that you’re comfortable performing for those types of companies. You know the industry’s obstacles and needs, and you know how to give stellar results. Your job is to showcase those results with your case study.
2. Nurture Your Inner Storyteller
The most effective case studies are those that tell an engaging story. Bank A started out in a city saturated with other banks. However, the owner had a vision and persisted, and today the bank is one of the most successful in the area.
That’s a true underdog story that people can relate to, and a story like that will be mighty attractive to other bank owners just starting out, and who want the same impressive results.
To tell the story effectively, focus on the customer and what makes them unique. Then analyze the customer’s goals and needs, as well as obstacles and weaknesses, and then delve into how your company satisfied those needs and helped to overcome those obstacles to achieve success.
3. Separate the Case Study Into Sections
With any case study, you are taking prospects on a journey through what it’s like to work with you. To do this effectively, break your study into the following or similar sections:
- Basic Information: Here is where you will list the basic information about the project. You should list the name, the URL of the project, the industry in a few words at most, the launch date, and any software versions and licenses. You’ll also want to list your contact information and logo so that clients can contact you in case they want to do business with you, which is the general idea of creating a case study in the first place. A value statement is usually also included here, which is a short sentence or two that describes the results that were achieved at the end of the study.
- Testimonial: Right after the value statement, it’s a good idea to include a testimonial of a representative of the company involved with the study, along with the person’s picture.
Contents of the Case Study
- Background: This is a short introduction to the client. This section should be no more than a paragraph long.
- Goals: Under your goals, you will want to include a series of bullets that include:
- A short introduction to the project and the goals you hoped to achieve. This should include both the short and long-term goals of the project.
- The client’s requirements going into the study.
- How the client’s marketing strategy was affected. Was it changed, improved or replaced altogether?
- Was the case study a redesign or a brand new project?
- Challenges: These bullets should describe the barriers and complexities you overcame as a result of the study. Also listed here should be any issues that arose that required attention before the case study could be completed.
- Solution: The solution is a short summary of how you came to solve the client’s problem, as well as how you implemented a solution. Also included at the steps taken, and the overall outcome.
4. The Importance of Formatting
A skillfully produced case study can quickly lose steam if it’s not formatted properly. Never make a case study into an undecipherable block of text. Instead, go for short sentences and paragraphs, and break your content up with bullets, numbered lists, and relevant and attractive images.
Breaking your content up into smaller chunks will also make it easier for skimmers to get the information they need without having to read every word you’ve written.
5. Just the Facts
An excellent case study doesn’t skimp on the facts, figures, numbers, and stats. You want your case study to be ultra-clear and accurate. This is your reputation on the line, so never inflate your numbers or make them up. Show how you got the figures and cite your sources wherever possible to enhance your credibility.
6. Guide Your Reader’s Attention
When showing an image or graph, use arrows and text boxes to indicate what readers should be looking at and why. For example, on a graph, you might want the reader to view the very apex of a particular column, where the customer achieved record web traffic numbers in the month of July. Make your case study even more interesting by including anecdotes, such as “They changed the opt-in offer from a newsletter to an eBook and that one change led to a 375% increase in web traffic!”
7. Get Specific
Describing the results you were able to achieve for the customer is good, but it’s better to explain how those results were generated. What did your company do specifically and that’s different from all the competition that allowed the client to benefit in such grand fashion? Those are the details that will make your case studies memorable, and effective at earning new business.
8. Use the Client’s Words
Every so often, dress up your press release with quotes from the customer. For instance, you might include a quote that speaks of the client’s desperation at the beginning of the project, and then another at the end that speaks of the client’s relief that your organization saved the day.
For instance, you might place a quote at the beginning of the case study that reads, “Our online presence was suffering, and we didn’t know where to turn. Then we contacted [Your Company]. After our initial consultation, we were sure we’d found the help we needed to achieve our content marketing goals.” - Angela Speakman, Marketing Director, Brand A
Then, at the end, you might write, “We were amazed that it only took six months to get these kinds of results. [Your Company] was able to do more for our company than we were able to achieve on our own in three years!” - Angela Speakman, Marketing Director, Brand A
For best results, place the name, title, and image of the person being quoted.
9. Repurpose Into Different Formats
So far we’ve been talking about writing and reading case studies. But what about those case studies you watch or listen to? Just as a case study can be crafted into an easily-downloadable PDF, a case study can also be a YouTube video, podcast, infographic, or Slideshare deck. You never know when you may reach an additional segment of your audience simply by transforming your case study into a different medium. Experiment with various formats until you determine which one works best with your target market.
10. Update Your Case Study
A case study, once finished, should never gather dust online. Instead, update your case study every few months or years, to show that your company is still producing results, and that the client is still benefiting from being your client.
A case study presented this way will allow you to be tactical with your lead generation. You’ll begin to attract the clients you want, and you’ll build excitement in prospects by proving that outstanding results are possible. In other words, you won’t have to tell prospects you’re the best, because you’ll have a case study that proves it.
Please feel free to share your experiences about creating case studies and thoughts on the ideas raised in this article. You can also check out some examples of customer success stories here.