It can be a struggle to earn your target audience’s trust. Doing so involves demonstrating what your product or service is about and how you can deliver on its promises. Audiences want to see proof no matter how often you promise to deliver specific solutions using concrete strategies. Case studies are an excellent way to deliver that proof. This guide to case studies analyzes what they are, why they’re important, and how businesses benefit from them.
What is a Case Study?
Case studies are written, recorded, or video content businesses publish showcasing how they successfully solve a client or customer’s pain points. Marketers include them in content strategies to promote products or services to their target audience. Not to be confused with a client or customer testimonial, case studies outline the business’s client or customer’s real-world experiences with a product or service.
Why are they important?
We learn from Content Marketing Institute’s 2020 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report that 69% of B2B marketers used case studies within the past year. When completing and implementing these marketing assets correctly, they serve as solid examples of how companies positively impact current and past clients or companies.
Doing so helps attract new business. Case studies play a pivotal role in content marketing strategies because:
- They’re very niche-oriented and targeted to a company’s audience
- They outline the client or customer’s pain points and how the company’s products or services solved them
- They position brands as authoritative figures within their industries
- They provide social proof to potential leads by highlighting the client or customer’s experiences
How do businesses use (and benefit) from them?
A significant benefit of using case studies is that they showcase a client or customer’s point of view instead of the company’s. For example, target audiences might be skeptical of other marketing assets, like blog posts or webinars, because they may view them as self-serving.
However, because case studies come directly from a client or customer, they can act as a third-party endorsement for a company’s products or services. Companies can add further to the case study’s credibility by adding several direct quotes.
How to write a Case Study
Case studies are very similar to blog posts and require many of the same skill sets. After finishing a case study, you can use them similarly for bringing in organic search traffic. The primary difference between a blog post and a case study is that it shows potential clients how your company’s products or services offer solutions to your target audience because they speak directly to them.
The following outlines some strategies for how to write a case study:
Develop an Angle
Developing an angle involves determining the case study’s focus, including challenges, outcomes, or solutions. This angle should also focus specifically on one client or customer to prevent information overload.
Identifying which client or customer to focus on involves thinking about how often they use your products or services, their results, and if they switched from a competitor.
- How long have you been using our products or services?
- What made you (or your company) decide to switch from using our competitor?
Make it Relatable
The best way to make case studies relatable is by writing them to your target audience. For example, if your clients or customers work in the financial industry, write your case studies to target banking customers.
Write your case studies to target hospitals or medical professionals if your target audience works within the medical industry. Ideally, you want case studies to show that your company understands how to serve its target audience’s needs and provide targeted results.
- What problems did our products or services solve for your company?
- Can you explain how or processes helped you achieve specific goals?
Create a Narrative Arc
Storytelling is just as important in marketing materials as it is with any other narrative. That means case studies must have a clear beginning, middle, and ending. Here’s where you can create value-driven content by including specific quotes from the client or customer.
It’s also helpful to structure all of your company’s case studies the same way by introducing the protagonist (the client or customer) and the problems they’re solving. Then, move on to your company’s solution, which could include the factors driving the client or customer to choose your products or services.
- Can you briefly describe your company’s background and its decision to choose our products or services?
- Can you list the top benefits of working with our products or services?
Include Data Points
Data points are an excellent way to show target audiences key performance indicators (KPIs) and other valuable metrics. That could mean they can access how your clients or customers increased their revenue, sales, or traffic.
By outlining this data, it shows your target audience real numbers instead of vague claims. For example, instead of saying “many” or “several,” include actual percentages, facts, and figures. In doing so, you’ll create believable content that increases trust in your brand.
- Can you provide some quantifiable results or metrics as a result of using or product or service?
- How have our products or services impacted your company’s core metrics?
Identify Challenges and Solutions
Remember, your target audience’s buying decisions frame around solving specific problems. They’re rarely purchasing things for the sake of doing so. Therefore, you can use case studies to identify challenges and solutions for specific clients – outline how your company provided a helping hand and, in doing so, helped your client or customer overcome an obstacle.
Taking this approach allows your target audience to picture themselves in the client or customer’s position. Be sure to use a humble tone to help increase your company’s credibility from your target audience’s perspective.
- Before using our product or service, can you identify specific pain points related to your processes?
- Before using our product or service, what challenges were you and your team experiencing?
nDash Case Study Examples
“To help empower our global sales team, it was imperative that we provide them with the information and training they needed, localized in a language they were comfortable in,” said Michelle Kupjian, Monster’s Senior Global Sales Enablement Program Manager. “Everything from PowerPoint decks to video scripts, Word documents, and even quizzes needed to be accurately translated, so our sales team had the tools they need to succeed.”
“We started out using different freelancers, but it was very decentralized,” Greg noted. “Content would show up late, and things were generally difficult to track and manage. We had invoices coming in from all over the place, adding additional work to my plate.”
“Our content creation process was slow,” Katie explained. “We had a ton of ideas but simply didn’t have the bandwidth or resources to get stuff done quickly enough. And like so many other businesses, our subject matter experts were focused on their own daily tasks—so asking them to create content consistently wasn’t an option. Our lean team needed a way to boost our content output capabilities.”
“Through previous experience, we knew we could engage additional freelance writers… We needed a partner who would be comfortable with the ebb and flow of our needs and be open to coaching along the way in order to deliver constantly improving content,”—Aaron Fennell, Director of Business Processes and Innovation, WDWC.
“We wanted our in-house team to focus on net new content that supported our core themes—the things we knew would drive our business and the narrative we wanted in the marketplace going forward,” says Dan. “But we had a lot of past content that was really good. It needed to be refreshed, adjusted, and updated. Putting nDash writers on those kinds of projects freed us up to create net new content while quickly scaling up the foundation of our Resource Center.”
What steps do I follow to write a good case study?
- Write about a client or customer with whom your target audience can relate
- Create a narrative with a start, middle, and finish—storytelling at its best
- Ensure everything is easy to read and that too much industry jargon isn’t weighing it down
- Include data points and quotes directly from your case study subject
- Discuss specific strategies, pain point solutions, and other solutions
Is there an approach I should use when writing my first case study?
- Create a punchy headline (use tools like CoSchedule’s headline analyzer)
- Include a brief paragraph describing the client, company, or customer
- Describe the company’s challenges or pain points
- Share information about how your products or services provided solutions
- Outline the outcomes, including data points and quotes
How do you outline a case study?
- Introductory paragraph
- State the issue or pain point the client or customer wants to solve
- Describe who the client or customer is in a way that entices readers to identify with them
- Summarize the goals your client or customer wanted to achieve in a bullet-point list
- Include quantifiable data points
- Write a one-paragraph description detailing your company’s solution(s)
- Here’s an excellent place to include quotes from the client or customer regarding how they implemented your solution(s)
- Match up results with the goals outlined in the bullet list above – match them point-by-point
- Use analytics to support these results wherever possible
- Here’s another opportunity to include quotes and commentary from the client or customer
- Summarize the case study in one final paragraph