Why Customer Case Studies Pack The Most Marketing Punch
Part Two: How to Awesome Case Studies
Part Two: How to Awesome Case Studies
Write like a journalist
Or hire one. Eighty-four percent of B2B marketers outsource content creation. When it comes to case studies, look for a writer with journalism experience. Most case studies begin with an interview of the customer. Having a third party do this can help loosen up the customer and get honest opinions from them. Someone outside the company will also be more likely to ask the kinds of questions a random read would ask. The interview can be done over a video call and in emails to follow up. A journalistic writer’s interviewing skills will be useful for drawing solid, real-life examples and great quotes from your customers. And their narrative-crafting skills will likely be better honed than those of a typical copywriter.
A good example of how much more attractive article-like content can be compared to marketing copy comes from Microsoft. It first pitched the story of its project to turn its-500-acre headquarters into a smart campus to journalists, but they declined. So, it wrote the story, titled 88 Acres: How Microsoft Quietly Built the City of the Future, itself. Within two days of publishing it, 800,000 people had read it.
To give your case study a journalistic look and tone:
- Compare a press release and editorial article side by side, and make sure your case study reads more like the later.
- Use your writer’s byline on the piece and mention that they work/have worked as a journalist. This can boost the reader’s trust that content provides an objective outlook.
- Don’t bury the lead. Include an introductory paragraph that gives the reader the main points of the piece upfront.
- Use a strong title that conveys the most interesting thing about the case study. Include strong data, like “customer increased sales by 80% in first six months.”
Tell a story in which your target customers/readers can see themselves
First, think about which segment of your target customers you are trying to reach with the case study. Then, determine which of your customers most closely resembles that demographic -- that’s you want to write your case study around. The more the reader can see themselves in the subject’s shoes, the more strongly the case study will grab and impact them.
Convey your knowledge of the subject’s industry by writing about it intelligently and in detail. Go deep into the common pain points those in the industry face. Fill the case study with material the target reader can relate to, scenarios in which they can see themselves. When the reader reads material about their own industry, they will “click” and identify with your brand.
Say you sell a suite of recruiting software tools, and you’re going after young companies that need talent but can’t afford full-time recruiters. Select a subject that fits into that demographic, and get him/her to talk about the day-to-day realities of trying to balance recruiting with all the other duties of a startup, the need for software to cut the leg work out for them, the prohibitive cost of headhunters, how well the solution worked, how perfect the new hire is for the company, etc. The more detail, the better.
Content that’s presented as a story can increase audience engagement by 5x. To make all the stages of the subject’s journey vivid, and help your reader fully relate:
- Remember your reader is currently in the midst of making an important, potentially high-cost decision and play to that. Highlight the indecision and confusion your subject faced when trying to make a choice. Playing to the emotions the reader is feeling in the current moment will have a powerful effect on them and help them identify with the subject.
- Take the reader all through the rollercoaster of the subject’s journey in a dramatic story with suspense, surprises, and finally relief and success. Give a lot of attention to the pain points they experienced and the ill effects their lack of a solution had on them and their company.
- It’s important to detail the shopping process they went through before coming to your products. Your reader may be considering those very competitors at the moment. Have the subject name the other brands they investigated or tried and why they ultimately chose yours.
- Detail all the benefits the subject realized from using your product or service. How did their choice result in increased revenue, efficiency, happier customers, employees with more time to work on other tasks, a work day that goes by easier, etc.
- Remember to ask your subject to be honest about any weak spots or things they wish your product did better. Your case study should cast your product in a positive light overall, but allowing a small dent to show gets honesty points and raises the reader’s trust level.
- Quotations are among the most powerful, persuasive case-study elements. Try to get memorable, revealing, true-to-life quotes about your interviewee’s experience. Use them throughout the text. Enlarge them, set them off, or use color or graphics to make them stand out.
Note: Some companies do not want to reveal who their clients are publicly. They can use descriptors, like “a medium-sized hotel in the Middle Atlantic” instead of the actual name.
- Previous Article: Why Case Studies
- Coming Soon Part Two: How to Awesome Case Studies