You know the importance of publishing case studies to show readers your success at solving your clients’ problems, but getting your feet wet can be a challenge the first time around. If you’ve mastered the basics of a content marketing program, you’ve already got a great start. The primary difference is that writing case study content requires a significant more preparation than other material you publish. Once you’re familiar with the basic types and structure of effective case studies, you can use them for a variety of purposes.
Know the main types of case studies and when to use them.
The four main case study categories:
- Illustrate or describe a situation;
- Explore a topic;
- Collect comparisons; or
- Provide a critique on a topic with causes and effects.
It’s important to identify the point you intend to prove through preparing your case study, so start out by deciding what format you’ll use. You’ll find it easier to develop an outline and organize your material to appeal to readers.
Stick with the standard format when writing case study content.
The most effective case studies follow a certain format that will cover the relevant information in the order that your prospects want to absorb it. Start by addressing the challenges faced by the customer your company helped. Tell the story about their business pain and the problems they wanted to solve. Then, move into the solutions that you developed to tackle these issues. This is where your potential customers will learn the most about your company offerings. The final phase of writing case study content is to demonstrate the successful results. You’ve already shown them the “before” picture, now it’s time to give them the “after.”
Conduct interviews to get hard-hitting quotes from your satisfied customers.
Your case study doesn’t have any impact unless they can hear from the customers you worked with to solve their problems. Once you find the right person to speak with, ask specific questions about their circumstances before they brought your company in and how their lives are better because of the solutions you provided. Avoid questions that will get you a “yes” or “no” answer, as you want descriptive quotes that you can highlight when writing case study content.
Whenever possible, use a customer who allows you to identify them.
You likely have a few customers that will choose not to be identified, and it’s possible to build an effective case study around them. However, if you can find someone willing to allow their name to be published, your content will have more credibility. Quotes from an anonymous customer don’t inspire trust from the reader and that’s the goal you’re trying to accomplish.
Be very specific when describing your strategy.
The meatiest part of your case study is describing how you solved a customer’s problems, as this is where you’ll get your prospects hooked. Go into great detail when talking about your strategy and don’t simply list results: Tell them how you did it, using a step-by-step approach if appropriate.
Use content mapping to assign different case studies to stages of the buying process.
Even after you’ve prepared the case study, you still need to figure out which leads it will benefit most and when. Will it be most helpful to them early on in the buying process or just as they’re ready to make a purchase? Align your case study where it will have the greatest impact and highest chance of success to move your prospects further into the sales funnel.
Create case studies in a range of content formats.
It’s true that the most case studies are text-based, whether in print or online. However, many of your potential customers might prefer to absorb your content in different formats, especially where visual representations can help demonstrate a product or solution. Consider using videos, podcasts or infographics where you can effectively drive your point home.
These are just a few tips on writing case study content that will impress your readers, but they should help you get the ball rolling. What’s your process for creating effective case studies? Do you have any advice for beginners who want to use them to illustrate accomplishments? Please share your ideas.