8 Tips For Creating a Great Case Study

Case studies are a great way to tell the world how valuable your products or services are. They go beyond simple testimonials by showing real-life examples of how you were able to satisfy your customer’s needs and help them accomplish their goals. With great case studies, you will be able to highlight your successes in a way that will make your ideal potential customer become your customer. The following are some tips on how to make your case studies a powerful asset in soliciting business.

1. Write About Someone Your Ideal Customer Can Relate To

Do you know who your ideal customer is? If it’s someone in the education industry, then make your case studies about your university customers. If it’s someone in the automobile industry, then make your case studies about auto parts and accessories manufacturers.

The goal is to ensure that once your ideal customer has read your case studies, they will feel:

  • You are comfortable in their industry.
  • You know their industry’s specific needs.
  • You know how to give their industry targeted results.

Think about it on a smaller level, such as when you’re reading a how-to blog post. Most of them are geared toward average readers. But when you come across a how-to post specifically designed for your needs (such as online marketing for the healthcare industry), then you are more likely to understand and apply the information. The same goes with case studies – people who read about results attained in their industry will feel like the same products / services will work for them as well.

2. Tell the Story from Start to Finish

People enjoy reading a story. A great case study will allow someone to really get to know the customer in the case study including:

  • Who is the sample customer and what do they do?
  • What were the customer’s goals?
  • What were the customer’s needs?
  • How did you satisfy those needs and help the customer meet their goals?

A final thing you could do is simply follow up with the customer in the case study and update your case study a few months down the road to show how your products / services are continuing to have long term benefits for the customer. This would give readers the opportunity to see that your goal is not only to help with immediate needs, but also to ensure long term results.

3. Provide Easy to Read Formatting

No one really likes to read one huge chunk of text, no matter how interesting and informative it might be. Be sure to use good content formatting elements like you would with articles, blog posts, and copywriting on your website including:

  • Headers
  • Images
  • Bulleted lists
  • Bolded & italicized text

In addition to providing great SEO value for your case studies page, these formatting elements will help your readers (especially those that like to skim) find the most important parts of your case study and get a great impression about what your business could do for them.

4. Include Real Numbers

Have you ever read case studies where a business states that they “doubled traffic” for the customer in their case study and wondered if that meant they went from 100 to 200 visits or 10,000 to 20,000 visits? Certain ways of displaying numbers can have an ambiguous meaning. You will want your case study to be as clear as day. So instead of just saying you doubled their traffic, show them real numbers and (if possible) real proof.

Of course, remember that not everyone is as familiar with the technology as you are, so be sure to highlight what they should be noticing.

This way, the reader can see where the customer began and where the customer ended up with your help. They can see real, tangible results. Plus having the picture proof can help the reader envision exactly what you might do for them, making the case study that much more powerful.

5. Talk Specific Strategy

So you doubled a website’s traffic or sales, right? How did you do it? This is where you sell your products or services simply by saying which ones you used and how they led to the desired result. You shouldn’t just say “our online marketing services led to these results.” Instead, you should say “it was a combination of a three-month dedicated social media campaign focusing on Facebook & YouTube and five months of link building that led to an increase in rankings plus brand exposure that led to these results.”

6. Try Different Formats

While people like stories, case studies do not have to be fit into story form every time. You could try different types of case studies, such as an interview format where you have your clients answer the same questions mentioned earlier about what they do, their needs, their goals, and how you met them. Quoting your customer in their own words will make the case study even more relatable to your ideal customer than you telling the story.

7. Appeal to Different Types of Learners

While some people enjoy reading, others may prefer audio, video, or visual representation of your case study. So consider taking your text-based case studies and re-purposing the content as:

  • A podcast
  • A YouTube video
  • Or even an infographic (such as the one below)

How To Calculate Customer Lifetime Value

The bonus with YouTube videos and infographics is that they are easy to share. This means that your case study may go further than just your own site, leading to more of your potential customers finding out how they could benefit from your products or services.

8. Make Them Easy to Find

What’s the point of having great case studies if no one will ever read them? Be sure that your case studies are organized and easy to find. Some great examples of how to do this include the following:

Amazon Web Services

Microsoft’s Business Hub

Drupal

Have any case study best practice tips or examples of case studies you have enjoyed? Please share them in the comments!

About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing, including social networking strategies and blogging tips.

  1. Great article.

    Thank you very much for sharing.

  2. Hi Kristi,

    Love your take on creating great case studies.

    We’ve done the same thing on our website where we combined not only numbers, figures, etc., but also created video, and combined the case study with a personal testimonial from the client!

    This allowed us to combine all aspects into one medium to save time and space and deliver more value to our potential clients while showing exactly how we approached things.

    You can take a look here:

    http://www.biquitous.com/internet-marketing-case-studies

    Something important to remember:

    The case study will have an air of authority and authenticity when you combine it with a testimonial, preferably video!

    Chris

  3. I like the part which targets the 3 types of learners. Key take-away is not to assume people understand exactly what you mean so try to spell it out.

  4. Appreciate your effort, really great work, it’s very detail and easy to understand million $ presentation techniques.

  5. nice Post Thank You so Much

  6. Great stuff, Mike – thanks for sharing!

  7. Awesome post and real fact you had mentioned here. I appreciate the way yo organize content and images.

  8. Another great post. Should really make one for myself as well.

  9. I love case studies where you follow along for a couple of weeks – they are more real as you get to see where assumptions may have been wrong, and how unexpected events play a part.

  10. Really nice article that covers the most important aspects of case studies quite well. As a marketing firm, we do quite a few of them for clients and firmly agree with your points regarding formatting (make it easy to digest), quantifying (real numbers), and quoting your customer in their own words as much as possible.

    Indeed, people like stories far better than a sales pitch or brochure.

  11. Great Article,

    Thanks you very much for sharing this, I am just about to publish one so this will help me to do a check again.
    Definitely case studies are much more powerful sales tool than anything else, a real-production story will allow potential customers to gain confidence on the solution.

  12. HI
    Its very useful tip for creating a great case study. I think that its very useful and positive.

  13. Thanks for a great post! It’s so difficult to stand out when doing a case study, they all seem to blend together so when researching for something unique to for our client, this post was very timely. Good ideas we can implement to make her cases look as special as the company results!

  14. Great information. Thanks for sharing. As a copywriter, I tend to focus on text…so all the visuals were a great eye opener.

  15. Great post, Kristi. Case studies are important and when following your suggestions of making it relevant by using companies they are familiar with and in the same industry, many people will eagerly analyze all the findings. Great point about delivering the results in a variety of ways for different learners – so you are understood by all. I have included your post in ‘Best of the Web’ http://j3webmarketing.com/best-web so your great post can be shared with even a wider audience. Thank you.

  16. Good post. I be taught something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It can always be stimulating to read content material from different writers and practice a bit of something from their store. This post was memangang really makes the reader as I became interested in further .. thanks :) http://blog.kissmetrics.com/

  17. Thank you admin for making this site so easy to find info. good stuff. . …

  18. I really like post. … :)

  19. Have you got any suggestions on how to promote a case study?

  20. It’s the first time when i’ve seen your site. I can understand a lot of hard work has gone in to it. It’s really good.

  21. Great article, I’ve been trying to communicate to my co-workers that a great case study has a specific framework in which you state your case.

  22. Good basic post on content marketing ideas. Like it

  23. Hello!
    I know this article is very old but I just came across it and found it super helpful, well-written and a good read in general.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  24. You can definitely see your enthusiasm within the work you write.
    The arena hopes for even more passionate writers such as
    you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

  25. Leilah Virginia May 01, 2013 at 2:38 am

    I had been asked by a group of professionals (since I head the HR team) for a complete analysis of the working of a major business on a large scale. I thought about involving the automobile industry in my case study which lands me up here to share my findings. It has been a week since I started with the project and discovered used parts to be a fancy among most people. In fact I was a little surprised when a site http://www.automotix.net/usedautoparts.html even stated about warranty for used parts and home delivery at no extra cost. Really the used car business has grown over the ages!

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