Content marketing can be truly powerful stuff, and the case study is one of the strongest tools in the content marketer’s arsenal – real-life examples of your product or service fulfilling a customer’s requirements really pack a punch when it comes to positively influencing buying decisions. Prospects can see the customer journey from start to finish, with plenty of perspective from the customer themselves; it’s like an in-depth, structured testimonial that answers a whole bunch of FAQs in one fell swoop, all while telling a compelling story.
Get your case studies right, and you’ll make it much easier for prospective customers to understand your offering in detail (especially if it’s complex, very service-led, or perhaps sector-disrupting), and develop trust in your company, as well as helping them to see that their needs and your offering are a perfect match.
The best case studies include the whole customer journey to one degree or another – though the emphasis on each step should vary appropriately, highlighting the positive aspects most likely to drive a positive buying decision, or which demonstrate a particular strength, or simply make the case study a more interesting read. Remember, if a case study isn’t compelling, then it’s not going to get read, and never gets to fulfil its potential (and bang goes your ROI). So it’s not enough to simply string together the customer’s requirements and outline how your company fulfilled them – storytelling is important to engage your audience (which is why we’d always recommend securing the services of a good content marketing specialist, like ourselves, to make use of their skills and experience in this area).
But how can a marketing case study weave its magic in order to influence buying decisions? Where exactly can it be used to best effect? You might think of case studies just as web content, but that’s not the only way that they can be valuable. If you’re looking to take the opportunity to drip-feed ‘social proof’ (AKA valuable third-party endorsement) throughout the customer journey – and let’s face it, who isn’t?! – then you can leverage each case study in a number of ways.
Here are some of our favourite options for making the most of your case studies, and making your content work harder for you to increase enquiries, improve conversion rates and land more sales:
Web content – dedicated case study page
A serious prospect will trawl your website for evidence that you’ll deliver on your promises – so make sure there’s plenty of content that illustrates how you’ve done this before, with a dedicated case studies page. Clarity and detail are key. A case study page should be really easy to find (accessible from the main nav menu), and each case study should be well-structured, highlighting the goals or problem, the approach taken or how the product fulfilled the need, and the outcome or results.
Web content – homepage or landing page
Maximise the chances of website visitors coming across your most powerfully persuasive content by flagging up your case studies on your homepage or landing pages. Whether you pop in extracted quotes or testimonials from customers, or a button that directs visitors to your case study page (or highlights specific examples), or you have a swanky slide-in CTA which highlights your most compelling customer stories, you’ll strengthen your value proposition.
Web content – blogs
The best blogs are not just written for SEO, they’re informative and interesting, and have an important job to do in engaging, informing and influencing prospective customers. This means they have to be quite varied – think about how magazines and other entertainment platforms don’t just churn out the same old same old, but instead mix up formats and angles. Including case studies is a brilliant way to bring the power of real-life stories to your blog – remembering to make it about the customer’s story, not your company or product – while very subtly weaving in key messaging that can help influence the reader’s buying decision.
Case study videos
If you find yourself with a particularly great case study to shout about, it can be well worth filming a video version for your website, which can also be used in presentations, or even social media (in a shorter form). Admittedly this one calls for a bigger budget, but videos are a brilliant way to communicate your value proposition – plus more and more people are consuming video content, so you can be pretty sure it’s a worthwhile investment. Make sure you plan carefully to squeeze as much value as possible out of shoot day, maybe even filming vox-pop testimonials and other potentially useful bits of footage while you’re on site with your customer.
Sales team assets
Equip your sales team with PDF case studies that they can send to contacts who are in the process of making a buying decision, and they can use these assets at just the right time to educate and inform, or overcome objections, or as a follow-up. It’s best to create a well-designed case study template that is on-brand, and then each case study can be written to fit and laid out in the most efficient manner possible (as well as looking the business, too).
Case studies are great as social media fodder, they just need a little re-casting into post format, so that they’re more concise – and so they catch the eye of the right target audience, who then are tempted to click through to your website to read more. Focus on the problem or need of the customer in question, rather than the product or service, and you’ll pique the interest of others who have the same requirement or challenges.
Case studies are a particularly good option for email marketing if you’re selling to other businesses, and your lists are segmented by industry – it’s extremely persuasive to receive a case study demonstrating how a particular company has helped other businesses like yours. This approach can work for consumer-aimed offerings, too, though you’ll need to make sure that your storytelling skills (and accompanying photography) are even more on point.
Squeeze even greater value from your case studies by using them to help maintain client relations as well as generate leads – including case studies in your newsletter means you get this double-bubble benefit. Existing clients are happy because they’re getting some recognition (and a little bit of PR), and prospects are impressed because, well, who doesn’t like a company that fosters the kind of good business relationships which result in case studies being created?
Simple but powerful, why not pop a case study link into the email signatures of your sales team? You’re therefore putting a persuasive, relevant case study (or technically, a link to one) out there every time they send an email.
Not so much about generating leads or influencing buying decisions here – or even anything directly to do with the customer journey at all – but still a way that case studies can offer added value: in internal communications and training. Using your case studies as part of your onboarding pack for new employees will help develop their understanding of your offering, and support them in buying into your company’s vision, values and purpose.
If your type of business means that your case studies are complex, why not do a more in-depth version of a case study and create an e-book? These can be a great way to share how your customers have grown their businesses, or boosted their profitability, or fulfilled their customers’ needs more completely, with the help of your company’s products or services.
Whether you simply extract a testimonial or two, include a short case study video, or outline a potted version of a relevant case study in bullet-point form, case studies can help your presentations become more engaging. Don’t forget to upload them to SlideShare, too!
As a full-service marketing agency (with brilliant content marketing and design specialists) we’re ideally placed to not only write compelling and persuasive case study material, but we can transform it into all the formats you might wish to use to give each case study maximum bang for your buck. Why not drop us a line on 01206 912914 or email [email protected], to start a conversation about how we can help you use this type of content marketing to best effect?