Tap These Case Study Best Practices Today
In the simplest of dictionary terms, a case study is “a process or record of research in which detailed consideration is given to the development of a particular person, group, or situation over a period of time.” In the business world, case studies are an invaluable element of any content marketing strategy. We’ve all read that amazing case study that made us want to be that customer—and buy the product that helped them achieve their goals.
Content marketers love case studies, and so do buyers. Unlike other marketing materials, case studies provide clear proof of how your products and services deliver results, and boost the credibility of what you’re sharing or selling by sharing the transformation through an actual customer’s experience. So, savvy marketer, what are you waiting for? It’s time to use these case study best practices to boost your business.
The Secret Ingredient to a Successful Case Study
How do you ensure your case study drives results? One of the most important aspects of a case study is the pairing of storytelling with metrics that connect back to the reader in a compelling way. Effective case studies aren’t a cut and dry list of statistics and research; they incorporate an engaging story and showcase a shared problem with which the reader can connect. Your readers should take away new information and tips from your case study and be compelled to take the next step, whether that’s attending your next speaking engagement or learning more about a product or service.
Essential Tips for Your Case Study
According to the Content Marketing Institute, case studies are one of the top 5 most-used B2B content marketing tactics. They are also an essential tool to help your field sales teams close more deals. Still, too many brands with happy customers on the books neglect to develop case studies. Why? In our experience, it boils down to lack of direction. (We all know that it can be overwhelming to create content without a clear focus or strategy in place). Some common case study questions we hear from brands: How long should it be? What’s the point? What should be highlighted? Can it be anonymous, or do we have to use our client’s name?
While you can take many routes to create a powerful case study, we’ve boiled down our experiences creating countless case studies into these best practices.
Case Studies in Your Content Marketing Strategy
Like other content, case studies make maximum impact when they reach your target audience. Here are a few quick ideas to help ensure your case studies get viewed—and convert your reader into a customer.
- Tease your case studies from your homepage to maximize visibility
- Write blog posts about your case studies to expand your audience
- Feature your latest case study in an email nurture campaign, and require an email address to access the content (bonus: this also helps grow your mailing list!)
- Turn your case studies into videos, and pair the content on your website
- Incorporate your case studies into your sales materials so that your sales team can use them to prove value and close more deals
- Transform your case studies into a Slideshare presentation
- Create infographics to illustrate the stats in your case study, and share across social media
Now, down to the fun part: writing your case studies!
Case Study Best Practices: Length
Through researching and running metrics, we’ve found that 500 words is the ideal length for case studies published as blog posts or other articles online. It’s long enough to share a story but short enough to keep your readers engaged. Ultimately, you want them to reach the end of your case study and call to action. If you’re packaging your case study as a PDF or other standalone file, you can push the word count to 750 (if it’s paired with graphics and other visual elements that keep the text from weighing down your 21st Century reader).
Case Study Best Practices: Customer
When creating your study’s story, we recommend connecting with one specific customer, client, or brand. However, if your legal department requires brands to be anonymous, that doesn’t mean your case study is dead in the water. Consider including multiple brands to illustrate the wider impact of a common industry pain point and increase credibility for anonymized case studies.
Case Study Best Practices: Structure and Strategy
Case studies should generally include four features: customer experience, before and after data, the relatability factor, and messaging that compels action. However, just make sure the information in your case study best serves your actual information, business’ particular goals, and audience needs. The last thing you want to do is stretch thin your content in an attempt to fit it into a case study format that doesn’t best highlight your business’ capabilities.
To avoid making this mistake, consider your business’ particular goals for this case study. If focusing on one customer experience feels too narrow, include other examples. For example, if your goal is to be seen as a thought leader in your industry, you may develop topical case studies centered on a particular approach or philosophy that differentiates your company from your competitors. And no matter your approach, tap essential tips like breaking the “Before” and “After” into separate sections of your piece. Trust us, your reader will thank you!
When crafted the right way, a case study can be the key to boosting your digital marketing ROI. Tap these strategies to transform your customer experiences into case studies that give your brand a leg up in your industry.