What is a case study for your business? It’s an effective (and fascinating!) way to tell the world about the high value of your product/service, your major achievements – and gain confidence in yourself. Case studies are interesting, and they’re much clearer than ordinary reviews – after all, they explain in detail HOW you solved the client’s problem.
And because a well-thought-out case study convinces the reader that you can solve their problem just as well, it becomes a great tool for converting potential customers into real ones.
Sure, the idea of creating a couple of case studies and getting more clients sounds nice… But writing an awesome case is quite hard, and there are rules to follow!
In this article, we will:
- Provide a clear case study definition;
- Try to convince you why your website should have good cases;
- Put together a step-by-step guide on writing a case study that will hit the spot for the client;
- Show cool business case study examples based on successful and failed projects.
What are case studies and why are readers so fond of them?
A case study is a small but self-contained story about how you solved (or didn’t solve – sometimes case studies are based on failures) a problem posed to you by the client.
Like every story, an average case study has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and the main character in it is your client. Cases can vary significantly in size, but they all have at least one thing in common – everyone loves to read them!
Our minds are designed in such a way that we’re always into learning something new about others. Especially if there’s a chance it will help us too.
The fun part is that people are much more interested in reading about failures than they are in success stories – so use that! But keep yourself in control and remember that any failure at the end of the case should be turned into success (if possible).
Who needs case studies the most?
Cases are suitable for almost any company, but there are industries for which cases, as an effective tool for increasing sales, will work best. These are, for example:
- companies that provide services (SaaS, startups, advertising agencies);
- ones that create products in a single copy individually for the client, taking into account his wishes and needs;
- using deep expertise to provide a service or manufacture goods
4 reasons why your website should have case studies
According to B2B Marketing research reports, 66% of marketers out of 112 surveyed speak about the high efficiency of case studies in attracting new customers. Another 32% agree that marketing case studies with solutions are one of the best formats for strengthening a company’s image.
They attract new potential customers
People often share peculiar cases. For example, a person who’s not interested in legal matters comes across an elaborate case brief example on the lawyer’s website and posts in on their social media. The post attracts 10 of their acquaintances who then visit the site, and 5 of them turn out to be the lawyer’s potential clients.
They demonstrate your level of expertise and form the company’s leading position in a specific niche/niches
This is what a successful case study does for you
As your company develops new verticals, you’re going to need case studies to continue penetrating the market. Never underestimate the importance of writing a case study to showcase your expertise in widget development/sourcing alternative energy/making fitness franchises, etc.
They raise customers’ loyalty to the brand
A case is the best social proof that builds audience loyalty.
Potential customers want to be sure that your product/service is worth their attention. Your website should contain at least fifty reviews with real photos of satisfied customers, preferably with links to their social media accounts, but… everyone has that.
What only you have is a unique case dedicated to a specific problem of a specific client solved by YOU! And this is that very thing that proves your professionalism and experience.
They convert leads into buyers (Bingo!)
Case studies show that all your company’s efforts are focused on finding the right solution to the customer’s/client’s problem and solving it. A convincing case study is the point where visitors turn into buyers.
What to write about in case studies?
We often don’t notice miracles, even when we work them every day. It’s a professional’s routine. But, at some point, you need to hold up for a moment, recall your most impressive moments, and think about how to write a case study based on it to impress a potential client and make other companies want to use your knowledge.
Many of us already have a few reasons for creating a case study:
A major contract signed
Usually, a lucrative contract is a result of a series of purposeful actions – an innovative approach to work, coordination of interaction of all company’s departments, a successful advertising campaign, skillfully done negotiations – all this could be interesting to your readers.
Significant increase in profits
As well as all the important factors that led to this. Let’s say you launched a new service that brought a stream of new customers or changed your approach to work, which led to unprecedented cost savings.
If the record profit figures were an accident, you can always analyze how you can use this randomness in the future – and share these predictions in a case study.
A common problem solved in a non-standard way
Share your handy life hacks! For instance, you managed to promote a new service of a famous mobile operator with an amateur viral video filmed by your employees after work in your office’s elevator. That’s a story worth telling!
A new product/service launched (or an existing one noticeably improved)
It’s an opportunity to tell your customers what innovations you’ve introduced, how the product will work now, or how its development will change their lives for the better.
A fatal flaw that gave you invaluable experience
Your own failed marketing case study will show that you have the courage to admit your mistakes. And this is a valuable quality, whatever one may say!
To make a failed case study successful, try to fill it with:
- A list of events that led you to failure;
- Reasons that influenced the result;
- A short guide on how you’re going to correct mistakes and keep them from happening again;
- Personal tips for readers to help them hedge against similar failures.
But don’t get carried away: for each such sad story, you should have 10 A-grade victories!
How to write a business case study: a step by step guide
Remember: a good case isn’t only about dry facts; it’s an inspiring story (after all, they’re called “success stories” for a reason). But how to create a case study that turns a visitor into a customer or at least makes them want to share your story?
Feel free to illustrate your case study with infographics, photos, and even videos, spice it up with quotes from project participants or excerpts from interviews with clients. Reach out to the audience. Voice the challenges you faced on the road to success – the more realistic the story, the better, so try to manage without generic case study templates from the internet.
Your clients and partners must believe that you’ll accomplish the same feat tomorrow for them too!
Step 1: Pick a project worthy of your case study
If you struggle to find the material for the story, here are a couple of case study questions to help you out:
- Does your company have a client satisfied with the high results of the work done?
- Are they OK with you sharing certain numbers, like expenses and income?
- Is the problem you solved urgently for the reader? Are the solutions you discovered interesting?
- Are your results actually impressive? Will they showcase your company’s approach in the best possible way?
- Think about it: perhaps, in the process of solving a problem, you found a new use for your product/service? If so, be sure to mention this fact.
Step 2: Make a clear plan
Before you start writing a case, collect all the information and sketch out a thesis plan for the sections of the study.
Step 3: Come up with an attention-grabbing title
A catchy title is a billboard for your case, and it determines whether your readers will spend their time on your story.
Come up with a short but intriguing name for your project that summarizes its essence:
Wrong example: “Preparing a Mediterranean-style wedding for Dennis and Lilly.”
Right example: “Arranging a masterpiece Mediterranean-style wedding for Dennis and Lilly in 1.5 weeks.”
You can do it in another way: show the essence of the work in the title, and briefly describe the result in the subtitle, and it will strengthen the title. For example:
Title: “Arranging a wedding for Dennis and Lilly.”
Subtitle: “In 1.5 weeks, we have successfully arranged a masterpiece 150-guest Mediterranean-style wedding for Dennis and Lilly.”
Step 4: Give a short summary of the project
This is a thesis summary of your entire case: one paragraph and a capacious metric that reflects the essence of your project’s success should be enough.
Step 5: Illustrate the input data
Here, you briefly describe:
- who the client is;
- how long have they been using your product/service;
- what tasks they set when contacting you;
- what results they achieved.
Add some info about the characteristics of the client/task, their budget, and expenses.
Step 6: Provide initial data
In this section, you:
Briefly describe the client company’s state of affairs prior to contacting you;
- Name the problems the client had. The reader should understand that things weren’t going well (tell some numbers) if this was indeed the case;
- • If the client company already turned for your competitors for help but didn’t achieve the expected result, mention it (but do it humbly)!
Important: All detailed descriptions should be easy to digest – make them readable through bulleted lists, infographics, and design of the case study itself.
Step 7: Describe the solution
This is the most important part of your case: it’s here that the reader (potential client) will conclude about your competence to solve his problem.
- Explain in detail how your product/service solved a previous customer’s problem. You can approach the presentation more concisely or post an exciting story with a detailed description of each stage of work.
- If you have conducted in-depth research and gathered focus groups, be sure to highlight your efforts.
- Remember that it’s essential to present the meaning of the work done in simple and understandable words, providing the reader with context as needed.
- If a large portion of your employees participated in problem-solving, motivate them to give their comments, and your case will gain new tones.
- Try to illustrate your story – add plans, photos, infographics, videos, screenshots, etc.
- It’s a great idea to take a bit of the client’s time and ask them for comments on how satisfied they were with the results you’ve achieved (it would be even better if you get them on video). You want a detailed answer – ask the client to tell what they liked more about your approach, and what could be better in their opinion.
Step 9: Publish the results
Specificity is a crucial part of a case study presentation, so be sure to use numbers, reports, and graphs.
If the results of your work are tangible and measurable (an erected house, a functional website, or a formed staff of new employees), describe and show them.
But what if the achievement of the final result is still ahead and the project is far from over (outsourced accounting or promotion of a large corporate website)?
Then, just record the result that you’ve already achieved today, for example:
- reduced the cost of promotion by 30% per month;
- completely formed a new department of the company and saved the client $100,000 per month.
Then, mention that you’re continuing to work on the project: this fact will already tell the reader that the client is happy with the results of the collaboration.
And again, don’t be afraid to talk about your failures! Describe why they happened and what conclusions you made for yourself. This will show your openness and honesty.
Step 10: Tell about the client’s future plans (optional)
Briefly tell the reader what the client company is planning for the near future, regardless of whether there’s a place for you in these plans.
Step 11: Create a strong call-to-action (optional)
At this point, you’ve done everything to convince your reader of your competence. There’s only one touch left – to push them to the action!
Convincing CTAs have long been effective in doing this. Place one (with a button allowing the reader to learn more about your product/service) at the end of your case study – and wait for calls!
Case study examples
Google Analytics case: remarketing solutions for Optimizely
Optimizely is a leading online A/B testing and user experience optimization platform that offers innovative marketing solutions to maximize UX and keep users coming back to websites.
They had to find an effective and easy way to remarket visitors at specific points in a sales funnel. Google Analytics Premium helped find a way to successfully drive leads through a sales funnel.
What we liked: The story is short and concise. The main text is completed with theses in the column on the right and supported by a quote from the head of the digital marketing department. All in all, it’s a well-done case study example with nothing extra to distract the reader.
LeadGnome case: automated email marketing for Host Analytics
Upon shifting towards an account-based marketing strategy, Host Analytics discovered that low quality needs hamper the company’s marketing efforts.
LeadGnome presented the solution to the problem by implementing an automated email marketing approach to provide nurtured and qualified leads through email marketing.
What we liked: The case study isn’t hard to read; the info is structured. In the end, LeadGnome describes what lies ahead before Host Analytics.
LevelEleven case: boosting selling activities for Staples
Staples were looking for an approach that would help their employees focus on the right sales activities.
With the help of LevelEleven, the company’s team came up with a better understanding of the important KPIs and got a 182 percent boost in main selling activities.
What we liked: A simple but very efficient approach to design that replaces tons of text with the only thing that matters – numbers.
Sum up: tips for creating a case study
Interesting, inspiring case studies with working solutions on your website are win-win content that works for the company’s image.
To create a case that grabs attention and forces the reader to make the right decision, follow these simple tips:
- A case study is advertising material. Attract attention with a strong headline, convey the message in simple words spiced with quality illustrations, customer and employee comments, and feedback, and end the magic with a clear call-to-action and a “Contact Us” button.
- There’s no universal case study format, there’s only a logical structure: client-problem-solution-result. The best cases come about when you weave storytelling elements into them.
- Don’t forget about the beautiful, easy-to-read design: create a balanced color scheme, think about how to make the story more readable (break the text into small paragraphs, choose a suitable font, etc.).
- If you’re sure that you have a perfect case study – don’t limit yourself only to your website, offer the material to thematic communities on social networks, send it to bloggers, or let the media cover it. People must know about your success!
- You can always make your case study go viral, and it will get the maximum response. Various PR techniques, light provocations, situational marketing, and the use of trends are the most appropriate tools.
- If you don’t yet have customer success stories for a case study, write about any of your successfully optimized business processes. If your portfolio allows, opt for the most interesting cases. When choosing, focus on showing the capabilities of your business from different angles: complex niches, large-scale projects, tight deadlines, surprisingly awesome results, etc.
If you have plenty of interesting cases, but you still don’t know how to let people know about your professionalism, contacts us and we will create an engaging business case on your website within a content strategy.