One of the best marketing tools you can have in your toolbox is a case study. This form of promotion comes directly from your clients and (or) customers. Because case studies come from third parties, they’re a valuable way of providing social proof of your company’s excellence.
Some marketers don’t like following a specific clear-cut schedule for asking for case studies. That begs the question, however, when is the best time to ask for case studies? Here’s what Michelle Calcagni has to say about that:
“I do think you can ask sooner than after final results if there’s something they can connect it to. Sometimes a longer-term project might have milestones that could be good triggers for a testimonial, for example. Also, I’m a big fan of seeing testimonials that go beyond ‘great work’ to talk about what the experience of working with you is like. After all, a fun, collaborative experience is worth a lot!”
In this guide, you’ll learn more about the best time to ask for case studies and what you should do before hitting send.
The Best Time for Businesses to Ask for Case Studies
It can be tricky to find the best time to ask for a case study—asking too early can turn the client off, and if you ask too late, your services may no longer be at the client’s top of mind. The best way to prevent your company from dropping off a client’s radar is by conducting regular check-ins.
“Asks like this should be part of regular check-ins as new customers onboard at certain times and asking when the time is right. If it’s an existing customer – then really can be any time.” — Susan Koutalakis
Amy Knightly also weighs in with her thoughts and strategy for the best time to ask for case studies, “When someone’s really happy with your work, they’re going to express that at some point in the project.
Maybe the prelim results are better than what they’d hoped—maybe they loved how you created collaboration. When they tell you, that’s the time to ask.
‘Hey, I really appreciate that. I’m proud of the work we’re doing together to ____. I think it’d make a cool story. Would you be interested in doing a short interview so that I can craft a draft with your perspective?'”
Scheduling a time to conduct the case study involves more than synchronizing company calendars to find the best time. It also involves looking at how the client feels most comfortable participating in the interview. Here are a few examples:
- Face-to-Face Meetings: Local clients may feel more comfortable speaking face-to-face during a casual meeting over coffee. Some find this option less intimidating than a phone or video interview.
- Phone interviews: There are dozens of phone recording apps available to help you capture quotes—like Rev Recorder (Apple Store) or Cube Call Recorder (Google Play), for example. You can also use these recordings to refer back to when fact-checking or other quality assurance checks. Before starting, be sure to ask for permission to record.
- Video interviews: Like phone interviews, here’s an excellent opportunity for recording your sessions. Some video meeting platforms, like GoToMeeting and Zoom, feature recording options.
Steps for Pinpointing the Optimal Time to Request Case Studies and Testimonials
Remember, there are no hard or fast rules for pinpointing the optimal time to request case studies and testimonials. For example, you might be working with a tax preparation company. So, it’s not ideal to ask them for a case study during tax season. Or, you might have an automated process in place for these requests like Wendy Jacobson:
“I like to ask for help with a case study or to provide a testimonial before the work even starts. I put a sentence in my proposal stating that I may ask [the company or client] to participate in either when the work is done. Then, when I do approach [the company or client], they are expecting it. It indicates in a subtle way that I expect the project to go swimmingly and for them to be beyond pleased with my services.”
If you’re unsure which direction you should take, here are some steps you can take to determine when it’s best to make these requests:
Step One: Create a Request Plan
Your clients are indeed helping you, but that doesn’t mean your request plan can’t include a “what’s in it for them” line item. Ideally, the situation should be a win-win for both of you. Here are some tips for highlighting those benefits in your request plan:
- Mention you’ll highlight the client or company’s services
- Talk about how and where you intend to market and promote the case study—which extends their reach to their target audience
- Outline your plans for sharing the case study on landing pages, in newsletters, on social media, and on your website
Step Two: Organize Your Responses
Organizational strategies are critical when sending and responding to requests. Here are some tools you can use to organize your responses:
Use these tools to record client names, dates, times, types of case studies, and more. That way, you can identify interview opportunities, timeframes, and the best times for engagement.
Step Three: Experiment with Various Times
Some marketers recommend asking the client to discuss their experiences after they have time to weigh the results. However, others note that timing depends on client relationships.
“I think this is highly dependent on your relationship with the client and what sort of service or results you’re providing them. If they can get immediate value from working with you, great, ask right away. If you’re confident that you’ve delivered stellar service and results are coming, you might be able to get a good story ahead of results.” — Nicole Bump
Step Four: Analyze Results to Pinpoint the Best Time
Once you organize data into a Kanban or spreadsheet, you can analyze your results to pinpoint the best time. Note the times when:
- Responses come in most often
- If scheduling requests come in immediately
- Which time management strategies work best for the client (like using Calendly or other calendar apps)
For example, does a specific client respond to emails during the same time of the day whenever they interact with you? Perhaps that time of day is best for them to also participate in a case study interview?
What to Do Before Hitting Send
Excellent preparation helps ensure a successful case study. Before hitting send on your case study, consider the following points:
Do Your Homework
Before sending requests, spend time ensuring there aren’t any concerns or other issues. On top of timing being a critical factor when asking for a case study, satisfaction is also an essential factor. Spending time doing your homework ahead of time shows your clients that you’re sensitive to their schedules and understand the nuances of their business.
Make the Process (and Request) Easy to Understand
If your request isn’t easy to understand, that may result in a “no” response. The main reason for that is that your client may not fully understand what you’re asking for or why they should spend time collaborating with you on a case study. Make your request easily understandable by outlining:
- The process from beginning to end
- How much time that you anticipate it’ll take
- Your plans for the case study following completion
Compile Past Case Studies Showing the Value Proposition
A value proposition is a marketing statement summarizing why your target audience should buy your products or use your services. By compiling past case studies, that list provides clients with examples of their value proposition. For example, here are some of our past case studies:
- Bump Inbound Scales Business and Better Serves Clients with Freelance Writers
- How Gradient Cyber Cuts Through the Noise with nDash Freelancer Content
- nDash Customer Spotlight: Ivy Exec
- How nDash Empowers mabl’s Lean Marketing Team to Consistently Deliver Critical Content
- How Monster Empowered Its Global Sales Team with nDash
How do you ask for a case study?
Start by asking customers or clients with whom you have the best relationships—like those with whom you’re on a first-name basis, for example. Show them how it’s a win-win for both of you—doing so makes it easy for them to say, “yes.”
When should you do a case study?
In a LinkedIn poll, 48% of respondents indicated the best time to ask for case studies and testimonials after clients receive results.
How do customers agree to case studies?
You can entice customers and clients to agree to case studies by clearly establishing what’s in it for them, solving their pain points, sending them a compelling pitch, and outlining how you plan to use the case study.
How long do case studies usually take?
The initial interview typically lasts around one hour. However, the entire process takes longer. For example, after the interview, a writer compiles that information and writes it before it moves on to editing. After the editing process, the draft moves into the approval stage—that’s when the customer or client reviews the draft internally before sending it back for publication.