Recently, we took a look at how to write a compelling case study. The ability to write a customer success story that motivates the reader to become a paying customer is a valuable strategy. But even the most incredible successes will fall flat when showcased in a poorly-written case study. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the most common case study mistakes – and how to avoid them.
#1 – Failing To Sell The Opportunity To The Customer
A case study benefits both you and your customer. You’ll benefit from having a piece of quality content that communicates the value of your products or services to prospects who are deep in the sales cycle. Your customer will benefit from the exposure; it’s a free promotional opportunity to get their name out there.
Convey that benefit to your customer when asking them to participate in your case study. Sell them on the opportunity to promote their own company. Get them excited about the exposure! Her excitement will come through in her story and quotes, which will ultimately influence the reader’s perspective.
#2 – Forgetting About The Reader
Your case study isn’t about you or your products. And even though it sounds counterintuitive, it’s not about your customer either.
It’s about the reader.
The reason you’re creating a customer success story is to reach the potential customers and influence their decision to buy from – or hire – your company. You may have the best products in your industry and your customer might have a fantastic story. But if you don’t connect with the reader, it’s all for nothing.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- who am I trying to reach with my case study?
- what problems are prospective customers trying to solve?
- how did your customer achieve success with your solution?
- what does your prospect need to make a buying decision?
Use the answers to those questions to guide you as you write the case study for your reader.
#3 – Making It Hard To Read Quickly
Think about how you read online. If you’re like most people, you skim it until you find something that interests you. Then, you focus.
That’s how a lot of people are going to read your case study. They’re not going to read it as if they’re curled up with their favorite novel. They’ll skim it, looking for clues of important information in your headlines, subheadings, bullet points, and customer quotes.
That means you need to write your case study so that it caters to skimmers. For example, your customer’s story should come through in your subheadings. Your main message – the key takeaway – should be conveyed by your headline. And your pull quotes should describe advantages your customer enjoyed by using your product.
Make your case study easy to skim. That way, it will hold the attention of both skimmers and readers.
#4 – Neglecting To Prepare For The Interview
Improvising the customer interview is a horrible way to create a case study. Seasoned interviewers may be able to come up with interesting and unique questions on the fly, but even they prepare ahead of time. Preparation is the best way to ensure the interview moves in the direction you need it to go.
Create a list of questions to ask your customer before you meet with them, email the customer the questions ahead of time, and record the interview so you can go back and pull exact language. Include open-ended questions that are likely to draw out quotes that readers will find interesting.
The better prepared you are for the interview, the smoother the interview will go and the better your results.
#5 – Failing To Uncover The Story Beneath The Story
Every customer’s story is unique. Every story has intriguing elements that lie beneath the results. If you can bring out those details, you’ll have a story angle for your case study that will set it apart from all the other marketing materials distributed in your industry.
It’s a matter of staying attentive to the information that your customer provides during the interview. A side comment, even one said in jest, may reveal the seeds of a story that can form the basis of your case study.
#6 – Forgetting To Include The Customer’s Results
Your reader, the one for whom you’re creating the case study, will want to see your customer’s results. That’s what will ultimately convince them to purchase your products. That means you need to encourage your customer to share actual, real results with you.
What details should you ask for? Ideally, you should be able to demonstrate how your product made a significant difference for your customer. For example, you might explain how they saw a 130% increase in operational efficiency after implementing your company’s solution. Or you might find that your customer’s gross revenues increased 200% after using your product.
Any hard numbers that support your main message can be valuable. Dollar figures and percentages are especially useful since most people understand them intuitively.
Case studies are fantastic marketing tools that can benefit you, your customer, and your prospects alike. People want to see real results from real people, and this is the ideal platform to provide that information. Avoid these 6 common mistakes to keep your case studies on point!
What other mistakes can you think of? What is your most common stumbling block when creating case studies? Tell us about your experiences by leaving a comment below!