How to write a case study that will actually work

Content Marketing

Case studies are a great bit of content for your website.

It’s your time to shine.

Your time to say how the product or service you provided to a forever grateful customer has transformed their lives, made their day-to-day job better and easier, made them look a superstar to their boss, and made them wonder how they ever managed to get out of bed in a morning before finding you were there for them.

Unfortunately, too many case studies don’t do this.

If anything, they miss the open goal being provided because they’re too wishy washy.

Too focused on anecdotes and not results.

Too afraid to admit there was ever a real problem to solve in the first place.

And failing all around to provide information that would make a reader think: “yeah, this is the kind of results I want to get”.

So, if you want to start creating case studies that are effective, that demonstrate your expertise, and can win you new business, keep reading.


Keep them concise

One of the biggest problems with case studies is that many are just too long.

Too gushing with over the top superlatives to convey any real value to anyone and, frankly, just a bit too boring to be of interest to anyway.

Honestly, I’ve seen some case studies that are upwards of 2,000 words of waffle that leave you wondering if everything actually ended better for anyone.

Better to keep them to the facts.

What was the problem in the first place, who identified it, what did they try and do to fix it before you came along, what did you do, what challenges did you have to solve the problem, what was the result?

That’s all useful information you should include in case study.

Everything else is just taking up valuable space.


What even was the problem in the first place?

A case study is meant to be an admittance that a problem existed, and that it was subsequently solved by whatever means, trickery or witchcraft solved it.

And yet businesses are too often afraid to ever make it sound like they had a problem.

Too concerned at removing the rose tint from their customers’ glasses that most case studies make you wonder why they ever went on a hunt for answers in the first place.

If the customer service was bad, say so.

If your sales team was running around blindly because their previous software kept breaking, say so.

You’ll get more benefits (and people trusting your case study) out of admitting there was a problem, you recognised it and had the foresight to fix it.


Make your case studies about you

A case study is the one chance you get to brag about your service, your product, your expertise in your marketing without being accused of overtly selling.

Because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

Your customer was having an awful time of it before you came along and it was you who solved their problem.

Don’t mess around trying to make a case study some kind of story of triumph about their business.

It’s about you.

What did you do to solve the problem?


Results, results, results

This is the big one.

This is where even the brightest case studies suddenly come to a damp end that make you think – meh.

You’ve gone all the way through the hardest problem to ever overcome in the history of problems, to the best thing since sliced bread solution that solved everyone’s problems just as they hoped it would, and then you end with something like this:

“We’re more productive now than before and we’ve seen an increase in customer satisfaction.”

How much more productive?

How improved is customer satisfaction on an NPS score?

Be specific with your results.

If your customers saw an increase of 25% in employee productivity and an increased NPS score of 10, say so.

If you’ve generated 1500 new leads and £500,000 in profits for a client, say so.

That’s the information your not-yet customers want to know.

They’ll sit there, thinking: “I wouldn’t mind an extra half a million into the business right now.”

Because that’s a tangible result that they can picture.

“We became more productive doesn’t mean anything.”


Talk to your customer

I’ve been in a lot of meetings about case studies when the idea of “we’ll write the case and send it to you to sign off” comes up.

No, no, just, no.

Talk to your customer about the case study.

Let them tell you the story of the problem they were having.

They have the information you need to create a proper picture about the whole problem, solution, results conundrum and anything you make up won’t even come close to being as powerful.

Ideally you want to get your customer in front of a camera and doing a video case study for you.

Sure, a well written story of success is a powerful thing.

But actually seeing your customer, in front of a camera, talking in person about the challenge they had and how you helped them overcome it will be much more powerful and convincing to the other people you want to buy from you.


Don’t waste the chance to make yourself look good

Ultimately, a case study is one time when you can focus 100% on making yourself look good while promoting your services and promotions.

This is the one piece of marketing copy you’ll ever produce when people are expecting to hear about you, your company and your products.

They want to know how it worked for someone so they can work out if it’s the kind of thing that could potentially work for them.

So, if you have the chance to create a case study, don’t waste it with a few fluffy paragraphs that wouldn’t convince anyone to do anything.

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