Case studies are a vital part of many marketing campaigns, providing concrete examples of how your business helps users. When carefully crafted, a case study becomes a cornerstone of your decision-stage content marketing strategy—creating leads, deals, and conversions.
Unfortunately, many case studies lack structure, data, and clarity—leading to a time-intensive piece of content that ultimately yields little value. If you’re looking for how to make a case study, this article walks you through the key steps for creating a content marketing case study that converts.
What is a Case Study in Marketing?
In marketing, a case study tells the story of how real customers use your service or product. These customer stories can be delivered as easily accessible on-page copy (think blogs), downloadable PDFs behind a gate, or single sales sheets distributed by your internal team.
At their core, case studies should be sure to tell:
- The Challenge: the problem your customer needed to solve
- The Solution: how your service took that pain point away
- The Results: some measure of success to prove your solution made a difference
This narrative framing can help prospects actually envision how your service will transform their business. It also provides concrete signs of success—not just cheerleading from your own internal marketing department.
According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, 63% of consumers need to hear company’s claims three to five times before they’ll believe them. In contrast, 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t know, according to Nielsen.
Who Needs Case Studies?
The better question may be, who doesn’t need a case study? There are countless situations when a case study comes in handy, like when meeting an early stage prospect, trying to close a deal, or even saving results to track internal improvements. Traditionally, case studies are used by business-to-business (B2B) companies who need major stakeholder buy-in to close deals. Consumer-focused brands like Walmart and Coca-Cola also experience success with case studies. If you have a compelling narrative of how real-world users, it’s worth crafting a customer story or case study to help boost sales efforts.
How to Write a Case Study
Thinking back on our basic components, a case study needs a problem, a solution, and a result. But that’s only the backbone! A successful case study takes the reader on a journey, helping them really understand how your brand is a part of the solution. Let’s break down different sections of a case study.
Like any piece of content, you can’t just start in the middle. A good case study introduction should give a brief overview of who your client is before you start airing their dirty pain points to the world. Remember, this is a customer story, so use the top portion of your case study to talk about the user, not yourself.
For a business transaction, just like in a narrative framework, there needs to be some conflict. After you’ve introduced your customer, it’s time to talk about their pain points. Use specific examples of how their system was not working and how that affected their desired outcome. Was a task taking too long? Then explain why a slowdown was a problem. Did another solution come at too high of a cost? Expand on why it wasn’t worth it.
Here, you get to brag a little. Looking back at the challenge, clearly explain how your business helps. While your business likely can solve a whole host of issues, make sure to make this core component of your case study specific to the company at hand. Let’s say your company sells llama-grooming software that helps schedule llamas for grooms and maps out ideal haircuts. If your customer really was struggling with scheduling, don’t waste time explaining your complex shearing maps!
The biggest pitfall in creating case studies is lacking data. The whole point of a customer story is to provide concrete evidence of your awesome business! Take every statistic you can and see how it fits in. Increased revenue? Shout it from the rooftops (in real numbers). Decrease in costs? Show me the money. A case study is decision-stage content, so make sure it answers every imaginable question.
Who Reads Case Studies?
As case studies are at the bottom of the funnel, they’re likely read by a whole host of buyer personas. A non-decision maker will likely read case studies before sending your outreach email up the ladder. A decision-maker will need that case study before converting. If you have to select only one buyer persona to write your case study for, aim for your decision maker. A quality case study could be the only thing standing between you and executive approval.
How to Distribute Case Study Content
Since a case study is so low in the funnel and so specific to your product, it’s hard to release a customer story and hope it gains millions of organic sessions. Promoting and distributing a case study is just as important as creating. Some ways to distribute your case study include:
- Put it on your website: Your case studies should be accessible without speaking to a sales person. Make sure your case study is on your website, either freely available or behind a lead form.
- Add it to emails: If you have lead nurture workflows, a case study can pump up your conversions with little added effort. Include case studies in your emails as a way for subscribers to test the waters before giving you a call.
- Arm your sales team: Your sales team should be handing out case studies like candy. Making sure your sales leaders always have access to case studies can mean they have enticing lead magnets readily available at any stage in the sales process.
- Pump up your blog: Case studies can be repurposed into mid-funnel blog content. Use compelling results, quotes from customers, or just use-case examples from case studies to amp up new content.
Where to Find Data for Case Studies
Where your case study data comes from will vary based on your business. If you have access to your customers’ analytics, you’ll be able to pull numbers easily. Otherwise, spend some time talking to your target customer and see what they’ll provide.
How to Make Case Studies Convert
Going from zero case studies to any case studies should help conversions. They add third-party data to a sales conversation. And ensuring a quality case study versus a slapdash one can really turn up the volume. The core parts of a case study that converts are:
- A qualified customer
- A compelling narrative
- Real results
- A good CTA
Every piece of content needs a CTA, and case studies are no exception. Tell your reader what the next step is, be it booking a demo, starting a free trial, emailing a specific person, or going right to a download page.
Create Your Next Great Case Study
You’re ready to start telling your customer stories! Just follow the typical steps for a case study:
- Identify the goal of your case study
- Find and contact your case study candidate
- Write your content with a buyer persona in mind
- Create a compelling layout
- Distribute your case study
If this all seems daunting, ClearVoice can help. Work with us for managed content production to get started on case study content that converts.