Case studies are a very specific type of content for the promotion of your business. They are based on actual customers and the way you helped them solve their problem. The key rule for a case study is to be authentic: people can spot a made up story, even if for confidentiality reasons you never disclose the name of your clients.
Why are case studies so important for your business? First and foremost, they help you establish your reputation better than any other type of content. It demonstrates your skills at work in the most authentic way: by actually showing that you deliver your promises. For this reason, well written and compelling cases studies are some of your best tools for lead generation.
After all, if you show people the improvements made by your clients after using your products or services, they will be convinced to try them, too, and enjoy the same benefits. However, it takes great skill to write a case study which achieves this ultimate goal: to persuade prospects to become your customers.
Therefore, let us show you what a great case study looks like.
- Show, Don’t Tell
Asked for advice on good storytelling, Mark Twain once said: “Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and make her scream.” The problem with many pieces of promotional content is that the writers take the notion of telling a story literally, and make a beautiful narration, but without much substantiation and calls to action.
When writing a case study, do not gloss over the way your product or service helped the customer: tell exactly, with subject and verb, how the customer used the product and what kind of results they obtained.
- Always Include Numbers and Statistics
Anyone can write a nice story about the benefits of a product and how their customers solved their problems and improved the activity of their company. Business people (your audience) want concrete, actual data to judge the effectiveness of your solution. When they read a case study, they are not just satisfied with your claim that your client increased their productivity – they want to know the precise percentage of this improvement.
- It Is a Case Study, Not an Advertorial
It is tempting to keep reminding your readers throughout the case study that your company, your products and your expertise, solved the customer’s problem. You should be as objective as possible and let the action themselves act as a promotional message for your expertise.
After all, you want to give your prospects rational reasons for trusting your business. You appeal to their logical thinking, not their emotions, when you are writing a case study. Do not inflate benefits, do not make exaggerated claims. After all, it might be possible for the actual customer to look over the case study and leave a comment disproving your claims.
- Format to Encourage Text Skimmers
People skim online texts, they do not read them from start to finish in the way they would do with a book or newspaper. This means that is important to include key elements in your case study (percentages, significant benefits) in headlines and subheadlines.
Breaking your text into paragraphs is a basic best practice when you write for the web. Including critical information in the headlines must become a best practice for all case study writers.
- You Are Not Finished until You Have Included a Call to Action
Although we said that cases studies should not sound promotional, this does not mean that you should conclude it without prompting users to take action in one form or another. It could be anything as simple as inviting them to sign up to your newsletter in order to discover more case studies like the one they’ve read.
Last but not least, remember that your prospects do not have a lot of time to spare, so keep your case study to the point and concise.