May 17, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
A case study is a piece of thought leadership content that describes how you work, how your company provides value to its customers, and the main benefits of working with your brand. They are narratives based on real-life examples of your company’s activities and its customers’ results.
A case study is a powerful piece of content that companies publish on their websites, include in their marketing content, or use in email campaigns. It communicates their work methods, values, and approaches, as well as the results they deliver to clients. Case studies include these three key elements:
Sometimes, all it takes to convert an undecided visitor into a paying customer is a case study that shows the results your product or service has produced. Publishing these types of content can improve your landing page conversion rates. Some companies integrate case studies into their sales copy, while others set up individual pages to feature their most impressive work and results.
The best case studies feature examples of work that appeal to the company’s ideal clients and answer their questions. They are behind-the-scenes stories that reflect the brand’s persona and values, building an emotional connection with the reader.
When choosing a format, template, and style for your case study, always consider the audience, their most urgent problems, and their preferences. This allows you to talk to them directly through the document and answer the questions they haven’t yet asked.
Regardless of the industry you work in, case studies should be a part of your content marketing strategy. Where you feature these types of content depends on your company’s focus and your web design. You might put a link on the main page, place a tab in the menu, or integrate case studies into the product or service description pages.
Business-to-business (B2B) organizations often place their client lists at the bottom of the page and make the logos clickable. When a visitor clicks on a logo, it leads them to a case study involving that company. You can also send case studies out as a part of an email marketing campaign. In fact, they are a crucial part of every sales funnel infrastructure and can significantly enhance your customer’s journey, or the path prospective buyers follow from brand awareness to product purchase.
Companies that sell complex services benefit from publishing case studies that focus not only on the product’s features but also its results for the client. The industries that usually benefit most from publishing case studies include:
Here are a couple of case study examples you can use for inspiration when creating your own customer-focused content:
Tezify is a marketing software that paired with the social media automation platform SocialPilot to improve their conversions and sign-up rates. They created a great case study focusing on the collaboration’s challenges, insights, solution, and results. In this case study, the main points answer the questions potential customers might have. Here is the result page presented in both written and graphic format for easy overview:
Image via Tezify
You can see in the snapshot above that the company focused on measurable results and used numbers to quantify the improvements they made for their client.
In this example, the Urban Land Institute features its case studies on its main page. When a website visitor hovers over a picture, they see the budget and location of that property development project. When they click on the images, they get a written case study on each project, including the financial overview, the process, and the “lessons learned.” Further, each case study features financial details about the investment, costs, and income generated.
Image via Urban Land Institute
Some companies benefit from behind-the-scenes case studies more than they do project descriptions. Explaining and demonstrating the buyer’s journey is an effective way to create an emotional connection with potential customers.
A buyer’s journey case study is the most storylike type of sales content you can create. If you can show potential customers what it feels like to engage with your brand, you can remove some of the reservations they have about your business. Here is a case study example that serves this purpose well:
Image via Venngage.com
You can see from this template that the company presents the results in infographic form and uses quotes from various people in the business to show how they approached the problem.
One of the best parts about this template is it uses the voice of the customer. The company is saying, “Don’t just take our word for it.” Further, the template uses easy-to-scan boxes for short-term and long-term goals, so the company can help readers understand the project’s focus and outcomes.
Storytelling is one of the best content marketing strategies, and it can create a real emotional connection between a prospect and a brand. Use it to tell your potential clients about your communication channels, the updates you provide customers, and the company’s collaboration approach.
As a marketer, one of your goals is to gain customers’ trust. Without trust, you won’t get conversions. Case studies are one of the best types of content for telling your prospects why they should trust you and showcasing your work and results.
Add client details to case studies (especially if the client is well-known and has a great reputation) to build instant credibility and gain customers’ trust. These types of case studies focus on one customer and project and their results. Make your brand appear more transparent and trustworthy by adding personal details about working together and linking to the client’s website.
Image via learn.g2.com
In the example above, the company has displayed different case studies on a landing page. The headlines and images give visitors enough information to decide whether the case study is relevant to their business. You can also see the name of the company, which builds instant credibility.
Let’s say a potential customer works in the same industry and sees their competitor’s name pop up. They’re going to be curious about what their competitor has done and how they used your service. Or maybe the case study features that industry’s main player; who wouldn’t want to know about their latest project?
With credibility-building case studies, it’s important to create amazing headlines that summarize each project and entice the audience to learn more. Because you don’t have all the information on the landing page, you need to tease visitors to click on the image to read more.
Consulting firms can also benefit from using case studies as a part of their digital marketing sales funnels, or the stages individuals take to become customers. Because they can’t guarantee a new client they’ll deliver results, they need to showcase their achievements through customer testimonials and project overviews.
The best formats for consulting case studies are direct quotes and video testimonials from customers. These features can help potential customers who are sitting on the fence relate to the situation the previous client faced and understand the approach better.
Case study interviews put your customers in the spotlight and let them talk about their experience instead of you. You can find plenty of case interview examples online if you decide to pursue this route.
The main difference between regular case studies and interviews is you’re asking your customers open-ended questions and focusing on their journey and experience from their standpoint, instead of just presenting the facts. This format is more personal and better-suited for highly competitive industries. If your customers tend to make decisions based on the emotional connection you establish with them, this could be a perfect format for your business.
If your company has just finished a large project that took months or years to complete, you might want to create a piece of content that talks about the different stages and shows the timeline of your work. This gives your potential customers a glimpse into your work style and how long each stage of a project takes, so you don’t have to answer these questions when they get in touch.
When creating case studies for complex undertakings, try to simplify the project and cover only the necessary details. Otherwise, the case study can become too long for customers to read. Use visual aids such as timelines, charts, bar graphs, infographics, and images for each stage to keep your audience’s attention.
Think about what your prospect wants to know before they pick up the phone or hit the contact page. Is it the insurance you provide, the return on investment, or the communication and update process? It might be a good idea to narrow down the list of things you want to add to this content by surveying your audience.
You can create a simple survey using platforms such as SurveyMonkey, SurveySparrow, or Google Forms to learn about the things your prospects value most and how they like to consume content. Do they prefer PowerPoint, video slides, or infographics? Would they rather read something in black and white or in color? Once you know what you have to include and how to present it, it’s easy to create content that appeals to your target market.
Written case studies you can distribute in your newsletter or on your website offer several benefits. First, you can add links to additional information that your readers can click on to learn more. You can’t accomplish this with videos, for example.
Write and publish a case study on your website or create a downloadable PDF version to send to potential customers. No matter which option you choose, word and format the document in a way that’s easy to scan, understand, and navigate.
Today’s marketing strategies are all about the customer experience, which means you need to help the reader consume the desired information. Decision-makers are usually busy people with short attention spans. If you create a written case study using only black and white or two similar tones, you might not pique their curiosity. Work with a graphic designer to present your content in a visual format that catches customers’ attention.
Another benefit of creating written case studies is they don’t require photography or video equipment. You can simply interview your clients, get a few quotes, send the text out for approval, and you have a ready-to-use case study. You don’t have to get clients on the camera or ask them for photos, financial details, and other content. This reduces the time it takes you as a content marketer to create a new piece of content.
Written case studies are also easy to scan, and they use big, bold headlines that clearly identify the sections of the document. You can still use quote and callout boxes to highlight the most important messages.
Written materials are easy to print, so somebody who needs to show a case study to their manager before contacting you can just hand it over at the next meeting. They can easily download and forward case studies in PDF form, too. Further, if you have undecided prospects, you can send them either the PDF document or the printout via post.
One of few disadvantages of using written case studies is you won’t be able to create as strong an emotional impact. You can overcome this challenge by adding visuals to your documents. Instead of using only Microsoft Word to create your case study document, you can design infographics or PowerPoint presentations and convert them into PDFs, as well.
If you don’t want to produce a simple black and white document, consider creating a colorful infographic instead. Use one of the many templates available on Microsoft Word or design websites. You can brand the document with your own colors and add your logo to create a visual representation of the project.
Infographics should be a part of every company’s content strategy. They are versatile and behave like an image when you want them to. You can embed them into your web content or save them as a document or PDF if you need to send them as email attachments. Well-produced infographics are colorful and eye-catching, allowing you to create a consistent brand image.
The main advantage of using infographics as case studies is they give you the visual edge your customers might be looking for. They are more engaging and entertaining than text alone. You also have to consider that many people are visual learners, and they’ll retain information better if they receive it in a graphic format.
Image via Canva
The above case study template uses a common format: objective, solution, and benefits. However, you can change anything in the template, including the colors, headlines, and images, to customize it to your brand. You can even animate the case study. Platforms such as Canva allow you to download the case study in PDF, video, or image format. This means you can easily distribute a one-page case study via social media, too.
You can also create PowerPoint case studies. Build a PowerPoint slideshow you can display on social media or professional networking pages to grab people’s attention. You can also use PowerPoint presentation case studies as sales tools when you talk to customers. Customers tend to engage with this interactive type of content more than with text-only case studies.
Just like with infographics, you can turn PowerPoint presentations into PDF documents you can send out slide by slide or as one file.
Image via YouTube
The above PowerPoint case study is colorful, using only three boxes to categorize information. It is also easy to use, adjust, and format. You can find plenty of case study examples on popular websites to suit your needs and inspire your own designs.
If you are creating a collection of case studies, a PowerPoint format might be best. Each slide discusses a different client’s problem and solution, so you can showcase your talent, know-how, and expertise.
If you are targeting a high-end client, you might implement animation and create videos to showcase your projects. These types of case studies are best for one-on-one meetings — either online or in person — when you have limited time to get your point across and want to make a strong first impression of your brand.
You can download a variety of case study samples and templates off the internet. Before choosing a template or a format, however, determine what your potential customers are interested in and what type of information and data you should highlight.
It’s important to present your case studies in a format that is easy for busy professionals to consume. Infographics or PowerPoint presentations work well if you want to focus on data and numbers and use charts or graphs to enhance the case study’s visual appeal.
If you are attempting to create your own case study templates, include the following information:
You can use case studies as branding tools or marketing materials, depending on your strategy. Regardless of your sales goals, they are valuable digital assets your company can use for years to come. Research the problems your customers face, identify their common traits, and choose a case study your potential customers and ideal clients can relate to. Paint a picture and tell a story with a case study, and you can improve your website conversions.
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