Case studies – or as they’re sometimes called, customer success stories – influence people’s buying decisions. They highlight the positive experience that one of your customers had while using your product, demonstrating that the reader can enjoy the same results. But, how a case study is written plays a major role in whether it’s able to do its job.
Here we’ll explain how to write a case study that’s both interesting and persuasive to your reader. Whether you’re writing from a B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer) perspective, the following details will help you create a marketing tool that pays dividends for years to come.
Start By Featuring The Right Customer
Your customer success story is only as good as the customer you feature in it. You want someone who is excited to be using your product because of the results they’re getting. The customer should also be able to clearly articulate the benefits they’ve enjoyed from using it. While you’re not asking your customer to write the case study, you need to be able to accurately convey their excitement to the reader.
Try to select someone your audience can relate to. If you’re targeting operations managers in your industry, feature someone in that position for your case study. If you’re targeting small business owners, feature an entrepreneur.
Identify Your Customers’ Goals And Challenges
This is not the time to wax eloquent about why your company is the best in its field. The only reason people are going to read your case study is to find out whether your product solved their problem for someone else. If your story doesn’t address the challenges they’re dealing with, it won’t have any influence over their decision to buy.
You need to understand your audience. You must be able to recognize what they’re trying to accomplish as well as the problems that are getting in their way. Only then will you be able to create a customer success story that addresses their needs.
Position Your Product As The Solution
Once you’ve identified your audience’s goals and challenges, you can then position your product as the answer to their problems. Create a list of interview questions for your customer that guides the story to its desired end: showcasing your customer’s impressive results.
Coming up with the right questions is an art form. A lot of case studies start strong, but unravel as the customer loses direction. That’s usually the fault of the interview questions. Your job is to come up with questions that create a linear and logical path to the customer’s results. Along the way, you’ll want to call attention to how the customer implemented your product and his or her experience while using it.
Every answer your customer gives should point to your product being the solution to their business challenges. If you’ve targeted the right audience, your product will also be the solution to the reader’s challenges.
Highlight Your Customer’s Results
When it comes to results, nothing compels like real numbers. Hearing that someone increased her sales by using your product is one thing. But hearing that they boosted their first-quarter sales by 217% is something entirely different. It’s much more real – and persuasive.
The part of your case study that your reader is most interested in is the segment that reveals your customer’s results. Everything else is a prelude. It’s the appetizer to the main course. But you must use real numbers to have an impact. Neglecting to do so will be a major disappointment to the reader. The omission will cut the legs out from under the rest of your story.
Whether you’re highlighting your customer’s sales, traffic to their website, or a change in the company’s productivity, clarify the effect your product had by including hard figures.
Optimize Your Case Study For Readability
Once you’ve interviewed your customer and created the content for your case study, you’ll have several options regarding how to present it. Readability is key. The easier it is to read your case study, the more likely the reader will stick around for the entire ride. Here are a few tips for making your customer’s story as readable as possible.
- Use plenty of white space and bullet points wherever it’s appropriate. That creates small chunks of information that are easy for the reader to “digest.”
- Include photos that show your customer using your product. Don’t be afraid to include yourself in one of the photos. Your face will help the reader make a connection with your company!
- Use subheadings to guide the reader from the challenge, through the solution, and finally to the results.
Gating Case Studies On Your Website
If you’ve created a really compelling case study, you can safely assume that your target audience is willing to sign up for your mailing list in exchange for the content. If you plan to gate your case study behind a sign up form, consider a few extra steps.
First, you’ll want to boost readability even more. Gated content is usually a downloadable document, such as a PDF. Have your graphic designer turn the case study content into a visual document with your brand’s colors, logo, and consistent header and footer formatting. This lends a professional appearance, and having a template makes future case studies easier to crank out.
Next, use a pop-up offer to gate the case study. Create a Picreel offer campaign that tells visitors that they will be emailed the downloadable case study once they provide their email address. A couple tips for using an offer for this purpose:
Make it juicy. Pop-ups are limited in how many words you can include. Consider pulling out one of the most compelling stats and writing a call to action around it. For example, “One Picreel customer increased conversions by 250%! Download the case study to learn how.” You could use a two-step template for this, with the next box telling the visitor to check their email for the case study.
Make it targeted. Where and when your offer appears on your website is as important as the offer itself. Don’t hammer a new visitor with an offer for a case study the minute they land on your site. Place the offer strategically using Picreel’s targeting options, after they’ve spent a certain amount of time on your product or pricing page, or after they’ve read a related blog.
Make it timely. Be sure to set up an automated workflow in your CRM, MAP or email system so that as soon as the Picreel lead is delivered, an email is automatically sent with the case study. Include a call to action – schedule a demo, request pricing, order now, etc. – asking them to convert after reading your amazing case study results!
Writing a compelling case study takes time. And just because you finish the first one doesn’t mean you can sit on your laurels. Your goal should be to create a growing library of stories that move prospects further through your sales funnel until they eventually buy your product.
Have you written any customer success stories (i.e. case studies) to promote your company’s products? How did they affect your business? What would you do different if you were creating another case study today? Share your experiences and tips by leaving a comment below!