I have terrible news for you.
What if I told you that case studies - one of the most boring topics you could ever imagine, are a massively underrated, underutilized tactic for converting leads into new customers?
I know. Total snooze-fest, right?
Look, I know I’m not going to be the life of the party for saying this, but it’s true! Case studies work very well, in fact, and if you’re interested in quickly converting more of your leads into customers, then it might be time to get with the program and embrace the snooze.
It might be time to create and launch your case study.
Let’s start with the basics - what’s the point of a case study?
A marketing case study should give your users a compelling reason for why they should choose your product and get them closer to making a purchasing decision.
Good case studies speak to customers’ specific needs and desires. By the end of a case study, the readers should be able to visualize themselves as the hero of their story.
They should be able to relate to the problems and see themselves achieving their goals by using your product or service.
Most case studies are bland because they focus on your company, rather than the customer’s journey.
Your case study should highlight success stories about how a real customer overcame their problem by using your products or services.
Just like a story, you can share a beginning, a middle, and an end, where your customer starts with a problem and ends with achieving their goal.
In this post, we’ll share how to write a great case study from scratch that speaks more than your brand.
Why Case Studies Are Important
Marketing case studies guide people to decide the best option for their problem.
By the time prospects are reading a case study, they are usually already aware of the problem and usually have several options to solve it.
By using a case study, you tell people how YOUR business can solve their problems. That's why a case study shows how a similar customer succeeded or created the result you are looking for.
The case study will be more compelling if the prospect is similar to the customer in the story.
So, you want to create a case study for every target persona you serve. This will help you in promoting your specific products or services, and not your whole brand.
Marketing Case Study Examples
Here’s an example of our case study.
It's called The ClickMinded Guide to a Successful Product Launch.
Eduardo put together a case study on a product launch that we did a long time ago.
As with all of our blog posts, we try to start strong and catch people's attention.
We were starting a brand new site on an unrelated topic. We had absolutely no lists and we didn't know anyone. And we set a goal of, can we get 500 emails on this completely unrelated topic with starting at zero?
He managed to get 565 in two weeks and wrote a case study on how he did it next.
Next, we provide some context.
What were we doing? Why was it important? What was our thought process?
It's a business case study, but it feels a little bit more like a story.
Then we divide the case study into different chapters.
We try to hide the fact that it's a case study in a story.
We're always trying to provide plenty of visuals that help illustrate all the points, if possible.
We include screenshots of either conversation that we have with each other or screenshots of the product, screenshots of sort of inaction events during the launch, anything that makes it a little bit more relatable.
In our case studies, we also like to provide enough details that the reader could copy us. So it's like they can copy us, replicate the results, and do it on their own if they'd like.
The case study had enough takeaways for the user that they could just copy the case study if they wanted.
Finally, we close the case study, usually by explaining what we learned. This is an example of something that we messed up on in this product launch.
To summarize, here is our case study formula that you can use for your posts if you think this would be a good tactic for your business.
Introduction: Start with the results of the case study. We want to provide context about the ‘before state’ and what results we got at the end.
Case study chapters: Where were we before we launched and what was the sort of trajectory of that case study chapter? We like to provide enough detail so people can reproduce the results on their own if they want, and then include any supporting media. screenshots, images, gifs, links to resources if possible.
The conclusion: Share what you learn and what you can do better. Include a call to action if you can, or if it makes sense.
7 Steps to Writing a Compelling Case Study
The best case studies are very similar to stories. You don't want to be dry and too scientific with these kinds of things because, at the end of the day, you're still finding regular human beings out on the Internet.
We like to see case study content that is inspiring, fun, something that people want to read and possibly even share, not necessarily submit as a doctoral thesis to get entered into some scientific journal.
In general, we recommend avoiding case studies that look like press releases as well.
Even if your customer avatars are B2B enterprise types of people, they're still humans.
We like to go for something a little bit more enjoyable and a little bit less salesy. Here's an example:
They are lining up their business case study in a lighter, social, and chatting with a friend.
The point of your case study is to prove that you have expertise in a topic and that your product or company can deliver that expertise.
Your takeaway is not to be all stuffy and professional, it is to convey authority, trust, and get the user to want to reach out to you and learn more. The data, the testimonials, the graphs, the examples in the case study, they should all accomplish that for you.
There's no need to turn this into a blatant sales pitch. If it's good, helpful, and useful - that does the selling, there's no need to sell.
With this in mind, here are the steps to writing a strong case study:
Summarize the key result achieved in your headline. E.g. “Real Estate Agent Triples Leads in 3 Months”. The headline highlights who it is about, what has been done, and what result was created. This also gets the prospect excited to keep reading.
- How Weebly Saved “a Million” Hour on Content Production and Achieved a 3X ROI
- Salesforce.com closes 90% of deals in 1 day; 71% in one hour with DocuSign eSignature Solutions
The Customer/Target Audience
The first step in writing your case study is to decide who you want to write about. Get clear on these questions before starting:
- What industry your customer is in?
- Who and what do they help with?
- What pain point does your customer struggle with?
- How often does the customer use your product or service?
- What positive results would make a good story?
- What have they tried before using your product?
Then introduce your client and what they do.
Introduce The Background
You want to create a “before” story of where the client started and what led them to get your help. You don’t have to share too many details about the history of the client though, just enough background to know what it was like before.
For example, the client noticed their rankings going down because of algorithm changes and they don’t know how to keep up with it.
You can highlight the negative effects of the “before” state. Another question would be if the client didn’t solve the problem, what would happen?
Outline what you had hoped to achieve with this project from the beginning. What did your client ask of you/you ask of yourself? What did you want to do with this project and why did you want to do it? In a nutshell, you should be explaining what you were trying to do and the importance of it. Why is this important enough to write a case study about?
Tell the Story!
This section will be the longest, and it will include all the details of what you did to achieve your goals. You don’t just want a document that conveys what happened, you want it to be a compelling story. Remember that this case study doesn’t just have to be for reporting results like a high school science project. It can be an engaging story that people want to read.
Here’s an example of how Mailchimp writes their case study in a story format:
This is the overall part of the story. Demonstrate what you did and where you did it. Did you market this on social media, did you use paid ads or SEO, what was your general marketing strategy?
You can also attach examples or samples of work as shown below:
Marketing efforts are part of the top of the sales funnel, but you don’t want to stop there. Keep going and show what you did at each step to keep moving potential customers down the funnel.
Don’t be afraid to document your entire process, including the obstacles you had along the way. Not only does this provide a good example, which means people are more likely to want to use your case study as a resource, but it also makes the story more compelling.
Include the funny stories about how bad your process was, and show how much you improved it. The chances are, if you had a problem with something, somebody reading your case study will as well.
Highlight The Solution
Here’s where you explain what you did to achieve the outcomes. You can list different solutions or services you’ve provided in bullets. You can also add KPIs, facts, stats, or data to make your case study more compelling.
Talk About Your Results
After everything is said and done, how are you going to concisely convey what you did? This section should concretely show how you met your goals using the appropriate data, charts, tables, images, screenshots, infographics, etc. Results are the main metrics to include in any case studies. E.g. “Traffic sources increase up to 150%, leading to additional 1000 hot leads per month”.
You can also include room for suggestions - show what you can do better, and what you have learned in the process that you wish you knew when you started. This adds credibility and more personalization to your case study.
You can use direct quotes from your client to let them tell their story in their own words. By writing it from the client’s perspective, you can validate your points and add more credibility to what you’re saying.
End With A Call-To-Action
You can do a soft sell. For example, “Contact us if you want to create similar breakthroughs in your business.”
Want to Get Started on Your Case Study?
We’ve brought together our case study template to help you convey your story more powerfully and make your marketing successful.
You can download it below!