The Complete Guide to Case Studies (with Stellar Examples To Steal)
Sometimes you only have a brief moment to capture a prospect’s attention.
You need to grab them with something catchy that fully captures your company’s mission and your product’s use case. In addition, it should be personalized for their industry and be something tangible that they can digest at the timing of their choosing.
For many, this can be a challenging task. However, with a case study, you can accomplish this and so much more.
Case studies serve as a silver bullet that can get through to prospective customers and highlight your product’s value in a clear, concise way.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know regarding case studies and how you can use them to convert more prospects and drive sales.
This is a comprehensive resource. To navigate to the topics which interest you most, click the links below:
What is a case study?
Why are case studies important?
What are the different types of case studies?
How to create an effective case study
3 excellent case study examples to steal
What is a case study?
A case study is a content marketing asset that chronicles a customer’s use of your product in a specific use case, campaign, or snapshot in time.
Typically, it would highlight the impact that the product has had on the customer’s business with data points and direct quotes from the featured customer.
Case studies are important sales assets because they act as a viable form of social proof. They can show your prospects that your product does work and can have a meaningful effect on their businesses.
In addition, they package together elements of a narrative that are mixed with customer quotes, data, and visually engaging graphics. This makes a case study a powerful marketing asset that prospects will appreciate.
Approximately 13% of marketers use case studies as their primary pillar in their content strategy.
Case studies are effective assets that your sales team can use to convert new prospects and drive sales. The magic of case studies is that they tell a real-life story from an existing customer’s perspective about your product.
More than 72% of consumers want to hear from customers that are using your product, but 78% think it’s hard to get a first-hand account from a customer.
Case studies resolve this by helping prospective customers understand the value of your product and learn how it can be used in a real scenario.
Take a look at this Spiros case study on how they used FineDine, a new operating system, to increase sales by 15%:
The video case study above highlights how Spiros uses a specific product to increase revenue. By focusing on its implementation, the company shows the impact that resulted.
Many case studies follow this same structure. Let’s take a look at the four main components of every case study.
The 4 components of a case study
Most case studies are structured in a similar way.
This is because all case studies typically include these four components:
Featured Customer: The person who shares their success story with your product
Specific Use Case: The instance or campaign when your product was used
Quantifiable Impact: The total dollars or percent increase for a specific metric
Customer Recommendation: The quote or testimonial from the customer
Together, these components will form an impactful case study that can be used as a powerful marketing asset.
But what makes a case study so vital in converting new customers? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you’d want to invest in case studies before other forms of content marketing.
Why are case studies important?
There are a lot of ways to entice a customer to make a purchase.
So why should you focus on creating impactful, engaging case studies? Are these the silver bullets you’ve been looking for?
Case studies (when done correctly) can check off multiple boxes for what your prospects need to make a decision.
A good case study is a deep dive into how a product altered employee or consumer behavior at the company. It should include analytics, such as engagement and performance metrics that potential customers would think are interesting.
Case studies are important because they:
Tell what your product does in a bite-size way that’s easy to digest
Act as a powerful form of social proof
Lead to an increase in sales
Help prospects visualize your product in action
For example, the sponsorship valuation software company Zoomph features a case study on their site called “How the Cowboys partnered with Zoomph to help measure and increase sponsorship revenue.”
The case study includes three sections: overview, challenge, and results. Plus, it showcases the creative content they used and features a quote from the Senior Manager of Corporate Partnerships.
By producing more case studies across specific verticals and personas, you’ll equip your sales team with the right assets to convert the sale.
What are the different types of case studies?
Now that you know the importance of case studies, let’s take a look at the various types of case studies you can create.
There are two main types of case studies that B2B marketers develop: written case studies and video case studies.
Written Case Study
A written case study can live on your website or be easily packaged into a PDF that your sales team can send directly to interested prospects.
The case study can be engaging with visual graphics that depict your product in action or the industry you’re targeting.
In addition, it should feature a quote from the client that is featured, as well as a handful of data points that relay the product’s impact.
These types of case studies are easy to share and can be informative. However, there is another type that is more engaging and effective at getting your point across.
Video Case Study
Video case studies are growing in popularity as they can quickly share your product’s use and impact.
Think about it for a minute: would you rather read a 1,000-word document or watch a quick 30–60 second video to understand a product?
Most executives would pick the latter, making video case studies an effective way to tell a story that is impactful and essential for prospects.
Take a look at this case study for Swipely:
It features Tremont 647 and how it uses Swipely to “take more information that’s quicker and easier” to understand deeper insights into its business.
The video is a quick way to capture the gist of what Swipely does and how it could help your company. This is valuable to prospective clients who are just beginning their search for the right solution.
They might come across this video and see someone else in their same industry who had a similar problem and used Swipely as the solution.
Marketers can also package this video into case study snippets or mini anecdotal client success stories to be featured on their websites. They could also be provided to sales team members for prospecting calls.
Case studies vs. testimonials: What’s the difference?
Case studies and testimonials are very similar. Both are a useful form of social proof that B2B companies use to convert new customers.
However, case studies often run more in-depth than a customer testimonial. Case studies serve more like a deep-dive research study into a customer’s business, chronicling its success and the implementation of the product.
A testimonial is a direct recommendation of the product from an existing customer who is happy with the service. It can include some similar information as a case study, but a specific case that’s outlined by the customer isn’t always required.
Often, a case study would include a customer testimonial.
Now that you know the difference, let’s dive in and lay the groundwork for creating an effective case study.
How to create an effective case study
Case studies can sometimes be overwhelming to marketers. You might know what you want the outcome to look like but are unsure where to begin.
Below, we’ve highlighted the four key steps you need to take in order to bring your case study to life.
1. Select the right client
The very first step is to select the right client.
The client can make the case study a success or failure. Imagine if you went through the entire interview and didn’t get the quote, story, or stats that you need in order to make an impactful asset. That’s why selecting the right customer is so crucial.
There are a couple of different things you need to consider when making this vital selection.
First, look at your target prospects and review their verticals. What target accounts are you chasing? What stories would those prospects be interested in? Find an existing client that is in the same industry and has a story to share that would resonate.
Secondly, consider clients that you have strong existing relationships with. You don’t want to ask someone that hasn’t had a positive experience with your product. In addition, you wouldn’t want to feature someone that doesn’t offer praise for your company.
Find a top-performing customer in that vertical who wants to be featured. It’s a bonus if that person has an outgoing personality and works for a well-known brand.
Once you’ve checked those boxes, you can reach and ask them to participate.
2. Ask the right questions to tell a story
The responsibility isn’t always on the testifying customer to ensure that the story is engaging. You are responsible, too.
Effective case studies tell a story from start to finish. As the “director,” you need to ask the right questions to ensure that the story gets told.
Consider the following questions for your next case study:
What problem were you facing prior to purchasing from our company?
How did the introduction of our product change your processes or business operations?
Do you have any data to share that quantifies the impact?
Who would you recommend our product to?
These questions will help tease out the answers you are seeking. They lay the foundation for a successful narrative that can be edited together.
Look at this video case study for Darwin Apps.
While you don’t see the questions being asked, you can tell that they were used behind the scenes to prompt the customer to answer directly.
Some videos might include the questions, but to keep the focus on the customer, it’s typically better to omit them from the final cut.
3. Draft, edit, and design the final product
Writing or shooting a case study is difficult. You need to be an effective copywriter or a skilled videographer — both of which are specialized jobs.
For written case studies, draft the text and review it before you begin to design. This will help you separate each as distinctive parts with unique processes. It will enable you to dissect whether or not the copy or design needs edits before looking at both holistically.
For video case studies, be prepared to spend time editing your content down to get it just right. Once the content is shot, there is still a lot of time that needs to be devoted to splicing it together, adding title sequences, selecting background music, and more.
Reach out to Testimonial Hero for assistance on crafting your unique customer story and bringing it to life through a professionally shot case study video.
These steps are all critical to ensuring that your case study is professionally produced in the best possible way.
4. Publish and promote it on the right channels
Once you have your case study finalized, include it on your marketing promotions calendar.
The key ways to promote a case study are through social media, direct outreach, and on your website.
Send the case study out to your followers through organic channels on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you’ve created a video case study, publish it on YouTube or Vimeo.
For example, SEMrush tweeted its case study with an accompanying graphic to grab viewers attention and entice them to click:
You can also promote these posts and launch a lead-generation ad campaign on the same channels. This will help you reach more prospects that aren’t already in your network.
Direct outreach via your sales team
Give your sales team the case study and have them send it to qualified prospects that might find it interesting. In addition, include the case study as an asset in some of your drip email sequences that are already sent out to your database.
For example, look at how Zapier featured its profile on KISSmetrics as a link in their email.
The case study highlights the impact immediately at the top of the page, focusing on three actions that resulted from using Klaviyo.
This draws the reader’s attention and encourages them to read on to find out how those results were achieved.
2. Vitality Health Case Study for Applause Lab Case
This video highlights how Vitality Health used Applause Lab to ramp up its video content:
The video focuses on the product’s ease of use and the process that was used to get the final video. This helps prospective customers visualize using the product and going through the same steps that Vitality Health did in order to create a worthwhile video.
3. Catalant Case Study for InsightSquared
The Catalant team highlights how Slate by InsightSquared helps them scale their business and decrease the time it takes to unify Salesforce data with non-Salesforce data.
The client explains how challenging it is to bring together multiple data streams and extract insights from them. With InsightSquared, they can build custom reports, saving team members their time and energy that would be normally be spent in Excel:
This is a strong example of an effective narrative packaged in an easy-to-digest video case study.
Case studies are an essential asset for any B2B business.
They can capture the essence of a company and explain succinctly why a product is useful and needed. In addition, they tell a relatable story through a stylized narrative with real-life data points to back it up along the way.
Ultimately, they are a powerful form of social proof that every company needs. By investing your time and resources into developing case studies, you will equip your sales team with the right content that’s needed to convert prospects and increase sales.
Now that you know what it takes to create an effective case study, reach out so Testimonial Hero can help you produce meaningful case study content to grow your business!
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