How to Write a Content Marketing Case Study That Accelerates Business Growth
When thinking of case studies, I’m always reminded of elementary school when we were encouraged to “Show and Tell.”
This advice isn’t just apt for kids looking to show off their latest toys. It’s also great advice for writing attention-getting case studies.
A well-put-together case study tells the stories of your very best customers. It also showcases the effectiveness of your products and/or services. And it lets prospects know that their lives are about to be changed for the better by becoming a customer.
There is no better way to gain a customer’s trust and to alleviate the concerns of buying from you.
Every content marketer (including you) should know how to write an effective case study. The following steps will help you do just that.
Once offered on your website for instant download, you’ll have one of the most powerful means of conveying authority in your field, and accelerating your business will be just around the corner.
Why Case Studies?
You may be thinking: why do I have to go to the trouble of writing a case study? Wouldn’t a testimonial do a better job of conveying the effectiveness of my business’s offerings?
Testimonials are an important aspect of content marketing; that much is true. However, as you’ll soon see, they shouldn’t be used in place of a case study. Rather, they should become part of the case study you’re about to write.
Unlike a testimonial, which offers a few glowing words about your business, a case study goes much deeper. It shows the processes and solutions that worked for the client/customer you’re discussing, and goes into much greater detail than a testimonial ever could.
What Can a Case Study Do for Your Business?
· Establishes Credibility
Anyone can claim to be the best. A case study proves it. This isn’t the time to be modest. You are encouraged to boast. “This is what we did, and this is how we did it. And because of that, we’re the best-of-the-best in our industry.” What a way to show prospects that you’re the real deal, Holyfield.
· Helps You Attract Similar Clients/Customers
The beauty of a case study is that it allows you to attract the same types of clients/customers as the one you’re writing about. This can and should be a strategic move. When choosing subjects to write your case study about, choose those subjects that comprise the industry and type of customer you plan to target.
· Takes Your Competitors Out of the Equation
There’s always the risk that your prospects have one or more competitors in mind whenever they view your marketing materials. Viewing your website, for example, a prospect may think, “How is this company better or worse than Company X?”
A well-positioned case study will put your prospect’s focus solely on you, making your competitors a mere afterthought.
How to Write an Effective Case Study
Now it’s time to put your case study together. Here is the step-by-step process I use. I’m sure you’ll find it easy to follow and emulate.
The Ideal Case
Your best case study describes a client/customer success story that your ideal customer can relate to. This shows that you ‘get’ their business and what they’re trying to achieve.
For example, if you are targeting marketing companies, your case study should be about the success you achieved by helping another marketing company achieve their goals.
Define Your Outcome
Right out of the gate, you’re going to celebrate the outcome of the case in question. This is where you’ll mention how much traffic the company’s website received, how much extra revenue they were able to pocket, and how much engagement shot through the roof as a result of your organization’s involvement.
The next step is to summarize the case process in a series of bullet points while using actual metrics and facts.
For instance, you might say:
- With a complete Facebook page redesign, Likes and website engagement increased by 400%+.
- A new free offer and redesigned opt-in box increased newsletter list subscribers by 80%.
- An enhanced blog schedule and newly crafted White Paper improved website engagement by 5000 new visitors per month.
You get the idea. This section of your case study should be written in bite-sized morsels so that it’s easy to consume in a single glance.
A Compelling Story
People love a good story. Your case study offers an opportunity to tell your customer’s tale, from their beginning struggles to the celebratory end.
This section doesn’t have to be excessively long. You’re not writing a novel. It can consist of a couple of paragraphs, but it should be engaging. To put it more simply, your prospects should be able to relate to the story you tell from the first to the final word.
Like this: “Three years after its conception, Company X was languishing. Facing bankruptcy and with little social engagement, shareholders were ready to close the doors and cut their losses. Then Company X called us.
Our organization thoroughly researched Company X’s operations, their current web campaigns, and their competitors. This allowed us to develop a social media strategy that we knew would get results…”
Again, boast, talk yourself up. Your efforts turned your customer/client’s case around. You saved the day. This is your chance to hail yourself as the expert, the savior, the knight in shining armor that pulled the princess onto the back of the shimmering white horse.
To top your story off, this is the time to showcase a testimonial from your customer/client accompanied by their photo thanking your company for your hard work, insight and skill in making their case a successful one.
Graphs, Figures, and Images
Now it’s time to prove that the case in question was successful. This is the “Show” portion of Show and Tell. Most companies use Google Analytics screenshots, showing increases in traffic and lower bounce rates.
Some organization’s use screenshots of their PayPal history showing actual dollar amounts and some use graphs and images designed by their in-house creative teams.
Dress It Up
Speaking of creativity, make sure your case study looks attractive. Whether it’s a downloadable PDF or it’s a page on your website, it should be well formatted. This means that it offers short paragraphs, white space between those paragraphs, and bold headers and subheaders to make it easy for skimmers to consume.
In the same vain, your images should be top-notch. Don’t skimp. This is your chance to shine. It’s your spotlight, your bat signal. It’s your way of showing that you’re the best. Your case study should be a shining example of just how great you are, and you can do that by spending more time and money – or putting more effort – into the case study’s esthetics.
If you’ve done your job thus far, the prospect who is viewing your case study should be chomping at the bit to buy your products and/or services. This is your opportunity to make it easy to do so.
A clear and concise call-to-action should accompany your case study. Some organizations put a CTA button near the beginning and at the end of their case studies. Some only place one near the end.
Wherever you decide to put it, a button offering a free consultation or an easy purchase works well. The verbiage you pair with that button should read something to the effect of, “Do you want these results for your organization? Click the button below and speak to one of our account representatives.”
Or, if you want to go even more concise, simply say, “Click here if you want these same results.”
This is how the best case studies are written, but they don’t only have to be PDFs or web pages. You can create case study videos or make a slide show available on SlideShare. For best results, make your case study available in a variety of mediums. Then spread them far and wide.
Examples of Case Studies
Now let’s delve into a few great glowing examples.
DigitasLBI made their case study very easy to consume. It’s a single page on their website with a slide show depicting the various mobile campaign versions they created for the Mexican fast food giant.
Underneath the slide show, you have the research the company put in, the strategy that was implemented, and the outcome.
According to this case study, 24 hours after the launch of the new campaign, 75% of Taco Bell’s stores had processed a mobile order. That’s a major accomplishment and should send many more customers into the open arms of the DigitasLBI team.
Marketing firm Amaze tackled another food brand’s online strategy – Italian pie conglomerate, Pizza Hut.
This case study is also available as a web page, no download required.
You simply scroll down, reading Pizza Hut’s story, the approach the marketing firm took, and the outcome (depicted below).
As you can see, the case study ended up with some impressive numbers, which looks good for both Pizza Hut and the Amaze marketing team.
Fat Media/Digital Sands Centre
Here you have another web page that depicts the marketing team’s role and the deliverables, which include responsive web design and the ability to book reservations online.
The only thing I would add to this case study are the actual outcomes, which this one seems to be lacking. However, there is a glowing review from Events Marketing and Online Coordinator, so we get a feeling that the case was a raving success.
There is also a succinct call-to-action, which stands out nicely and should prompt plenty of click-throughs from companies looking for the same level of satisfaction.
There you have it. That’s all it takes to write a case study. All you have to do now is get in touch with your best customer/client and start “Showing and Telling” their story. Before long you’ll have one of the best marketing materials for driving new prospects your way.
Would you like a case study written for your company? Do you have a success story to “Show”? Contact me today and tell me about your favorite case. I will write a case study that demands attention, and that drives prospects your way.