The Ultimate Guide to Writing Effective Case Studies

The Ultimate Guide To Writing Effective Case StudiesYou can tell your customers how fantastic your products or services are, and it may even benefit you.

But the main thing to focus on is getting your customers results. That’s more important than anything else. If you can solve their problem and improve their lives, you won’t have any trouble finding more customers like them. When you can get your customers talking positively about you, you can’t buy better marketing.

This is where case studies come in. A case study is a type of content demonstrating how you were able to transform a client’s life. It’s almost like a long-form testimonial.

For instance, it could be helping them lose 40 lbs. of excess body fat or helping them go from having no dates to three dates per week.

But even case studies showing exemplary results can be boring to read if not appropriately crafted. Why is anyone going to read a boring piece of content and then hire you?

So, here are some tips on how to craft effective case studies.

Handpick Who You’re Going to Write About

It doesn’t make much sense to cover an outlier in your case studies. This isn’t to say you can’t write about a customer you achieved significant results for. What it means is it should be someone your ideal customer can relate to.

Let’s say you’re a guitar teacher. When one of your students first came to you, they were frustrated trying to learn guitar on their own. They tried everything before hiring you – books, DVDs, online lessons, video courses, and so on. But they were getting nowhere.

After working with you for two months, they learned all their open chords and are happier than ever continuing their journey to becoming a better guitar player. They have a better outlook, and they’re getting results to boot.

A lot of people can relate to the frustration of trying to pick up an instrument for the first time so that they can identify with your client. When they see that you can help someone like them get results, they’ll be more likely to want to hire you.

Just so there’s no confusion – you can have both case studies that highlight the “average” case, as well as clients you were able to get significant results for. But you should hand select who to feature on your website, so your audience can relate.

Form a Story Around the Customer

Don’t merely say something like, “we increased their social media following by 33% and email list by 150%”. These might be impressive results, but facts alone do not tell a story. It’s like trying to read a phonebook to someone – a phonebook contains a lot of facts, but it’s not an interesting read.

Talk about how your customer felt before they came to you. Were they frustrated, confused, or angry?

What products or services did they try before finding you? What were the results?

What goals did the customer have? How did you help them achieve those goals?

Start at the beginning and tell the whole story. Then, follow up with your customers and update the case study from time to time.

If you want your prospects to read your case studies from start to finish, you must tell a compelling story.

Make Your Case Studies Easy to Read

Follow the same formatting conventions you already use in your blogging efforts.

Use headers, images, bulleted lists, bolded text, italicized text, and other elements to break up the wall of text and keep the reader engaged.

People tend to skim first and read later. So, first, make it easy for your readers to skim over the case study to pull out the key points that pertain to them. If they’re interested, they will go back and read the entire content piece.

Use Numbers Intelligently

You already know you shouldn’t merely state the result of how you helped a customer.

But numbers do play an essential part in content like this. Think of typical blog headlines like “Top 10 Ways to Build Your Small Business into a Massive Small Business”, or “How to Increase Your Social Media Following by 72% in 3 Minutes or Less”.

People are naturally attracted to numbers in headlines.

But beware of overusing percentages in your case studies. Sure, a 182% increase sounds impressive, but if you just took your client’s email list from 0 to 182, it suddenly seems less compelling. Not to say that this isn’t a good result, it’s just that there’s no reason to use a percentage in an example like that.

As much as possible, use real numbers in your case studies (i.e., we generated $60,000 in sales for this small business in three months). If you’re too embarrasses to use real numbers, then maybe it’s not a case study at all.

Talk Specifically About How You Helped Your Client

Assume the reader doesn’t know anything about what you do.

Great, you increased the client’s web traffic by 200 visitors per day. But why does this matter, and how did you help them get there?

Talk about the details of your initial consultation. What did your client come to you wanting to accomplish, and how did you form a strategy around their objectives? How did increasing their traffic help them?

“Our internet marketing team helped them drive more traffic to their website” is vague, uninteresting, and is mostly just a collection of words. Be more specific. Say something along the lines of, “we researched and identified relevant niche keywords, created search engine optimized content around those terms, and improved the load times of their website, which resulted in increased traffic over a six-month period.”

Make Your Client the Hero of the Story

We know, we know. If not for your awesomeness your client would still be 80 lbs. overweight and dateless. But that doesn’t mean you should make yourself the central focus of the case study.

Instead, think of yourself as the supporting character and write your case studies from that perspective.

Your client was already on a journey towards improvement. Sure, they may have been frustrated. Sure, they may have tried everything under the sun before coming across your service. But that doesn’t mean you should present yourself as the silver bullet.

Instead, talk about how your client was looking for a solution. Talk about why you felt your offer could benefit them, and why it was a perfect fit. Share the steps you took to support them on their journey towards transformation.

Making your client the hero of the story will help your prospects envision themselves in the same position. That will make them want to work with you more. It can also build your credibility, assuming you don’t downplay your role in helping the client get to where they want to go.

Edit Until You Can Edit No More

“Why would I work so hard on a single piece of content?” said no expert marketer ever.

They know the value of good content.

Good content can help you increase your search rankings and traffic, build more credibility with your customers, boost sales, and a great deal more.

Though there are plenty of good case studies out there, there are aren’t many great ones. How many case studies have you read? Of those, which ones do you remember if any?

Unless a case study is particularly captivating, it won’t be remembered. Yes, it can still serve its purpose in helping you get a client. But then you also must consider the impression you’ve made with said client.

Eliminate spelling and grammatical errors from your content. Make it easy to read. Avoid repetition. Edit out extraneous text. Keep editing until there’s nothing left to remove.

Experiment with Format

Try different formats and determine what works best.

You might be an industry that’s more numbers oriented, in which case you may want to use more numbers in your case studies.

You may be in a niche where your prospects are more interested in intangible results (such as increased confidence), so you may want to highlight the emotional response of your clients.

You might consider interviewing your clients and then quoting them in their case study.

You know your industry and audience better than anyone, so use this knowledge to create better content.

Final Thoughts

Writing case studies is just one part of the occasion. As with anything else, content you create needs to be marketed to produce results.

Once you have a great piece of content, you need to share it out into the world. You can utilize many of the marketing channels you’re already using, whether it’s social media, email, or PPC.

Beyond that, don’t hide away your case studies in some deep, dark corner of your website. You know how powerful testimonies can be in convincing a customer to buy from you. Make these success stories easy to find, as that will build your overall credibility.

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