Anyone can write nice things about their own brand.
But backing them up with real-life examples?
That’s another thing altogether.
Glowing promises and ambitious slogans aren’t always enough to convince consumers to try your brand.
A well-constructed case study provides can be the ideal format to showcase the benefits of your product or service – and persuade visitors to become buyers, clients, or loyal customers.
However, writing a compelling case study is no easy task.
Some things you will need to do:
- Thoroughly analyze your actions when working on a certain project.
- Gather customer feedback.
- Summarize all your mistakes and victories.
- Draw conclusions that convince readers of your professionalism and ability to help them achieve their goals.
But it will take some hard work and creative inspiration to get those increased conversions and larger sales you’re looking for.
This detailed guide will help you navigate the thorny path to writing a brilliant case study.
1. Choose Your Topic
Look for the most relevant examples that will appeal to your target market.
Irrelevant niche cases are unlikely to attract the audience you want.
If the majority of your clients are healthcare centers, for example, there is no point in writing a case study about a client from the retail industry.
Gear your content to your readers. Write about issues that will resonate with them.
2. Select a Suitable Client
Companies with hundreds or even thousands of clients may find it challenging to choose a sufficiently notable case for consideration.
Even if you have only a dozen prospects to choose from, it can be hard to decide on a single one that will get your point across.
Whether you choose a loyal long-time customer or a relatively new client, the main thing is to demonstrate how you faced an exceptional challenge and overcame it.
A big name client alone doesn’t make for an awesome case study.
Serving a market giant may add stars to your reputation, but it won’t be worth much in terms of converting customers if your analysis is superficial and meaningless.
It is important to highlight measurable results.
Your case study should demonstrate to readers how your company handles challenges in a professional way, with satisfactory results for all involved parties.
3. Hold an Interview & Collect Data
Accurate and detailed data is important when writing a convincing case study.
You can collect your data by conducting an interview with your chosen customer.
Start your conversation with a few ice-breaking questions to create a light and relaxing mood. Then gradually dig deeper to discover their opinions on the outcome of your joint project.
Important: Be sure to record your interview or take notes!
To get more detailed answers, you should ask open-ended questions. Dig into the “why” and “how” elements.
For example, if your client says, “Your solution is great. It simplified the lives of my employees,” ask for specific examples of how lives were simplified.
If at all possible, prompt your client for quantitative details.
An ideal answer would be something like, “Thanks to your solution, our company achieved a 20% revenue increase in three months. The number of clients grew by 634, and time spent decreased by 34%.”
Now you have measurable metrics that can be used to verify your product’s impact.
Here are some sample questions that will elicit detailed answers:
- Did our solution pay off? What is the ratio between expenses and revenues as a result of this project?
- Did new opportunities open up for your brand that were unattainable before?
- How did you measure the success of this solution? What metrics did you use?
Even if the customer asks to remain anonymous, an abundance of specific data will increase the credibility of your case study.
4. Structure Your Case Study
With your client’s testimonial and accurate data at hand, you can proceed to outline your case study.
Use your outline to plan the writing of your case study in a way that will be engaging and reader-friendly.
Break your story down into steps that highlight how you resolved the issue.
Do more than merely state a problem and mentioning that you solved it.
Describe the intermediate stages to your readers in a step-by-step format.
Imagine reading a book without chapters, with only a prologue and epilogue. You would be left wondering what happened in between.
Your case study should answer the questions: who, what, where, when, and why, and conclude with a resounding how.
A title is the first element your potential clients will come across, so make it attention-grabbing and informative.
Your title should answer the following questions:
- Who is this case study about?
- What challenges did they face?
- How was the problem addressed?
For example: “Online Retailer Sees Sales Double with PPC”.
This title tells readers that you worked with an online retailer who wanted to increase their sales, and you accomplished this goal thanks to pay-per-click advertising.
Start your case study by providing a short (1-2 small paragraph) profile of your client.
Use answers from the questionnaire you completed during the initial interview to describe the client’s niche, experience, and competitive advantages.
Smoothly transition to the reason you became involved.
What circumstances prompted the client to contact you?
Detail what obstacles your client faced, and describe their background prior to your intervention, to draw readers closer to the problem and demonstrate why your services are in demand.
The Challenge section should answer the following questions:
- How did your client handle their daily processes prior to contacting you?
- What obstacles did they face?
- Did they try to solve the problem on their own? How exactly?
- What results did they hope to get?
- What state was the project in when it was assigned to you?
The Challenge and Solution sections are essentially a question and an answer.
You have defined a certain problem, and now you will explain how it was solved.
Start by describing the research process, in particular:
- Metrics collected during the initial analysis of the project.
- Initially available tools, technologies, and resources.
- Weak and strong aspects of the company.
- Your client’s mission and corporate values.
- Advantages of competitors that the client hoped to outrun.
- Differences between the client’s strategy and those of market leaders. Gaps to be filled.
- Manual processes to be automated and excessive costs to be cut.
- The client’s ultimate goal for the project.
- Several budget-friendly solutions, and what criteria informed your selection.
Provide detailed information on the chosen solution:
- What tasks would it accomplish?
- What benefits were expected?
- How much time was needed to get the desired results?
- What resources were needed?
Once you describe your research process, provide a step-by-step strategy showing how your solution was implemented.
Conduct a retrospective analysis and recall all your project-related moves.
Compile an outline, placing events in chronological sequence.
Then detail each step and substantiate the feasibility of decisions made.
Show that every minute of the customer’s time and every dollar from the project budget were well-spent.
After reading your case study, prospective clients should come away with an idea of exactly what you would do to realize their goals.
Do not simply write “we chose cutting edge technologies” or “we used the best practices.” These are vague and abstract statements.
Clearly state exactly what was done to arrive at a satisfactory solution.
Results / Achievements
Showcase the contrast between the project’s initial state and its success resulting from your efforts.
Emphasize the fact that you helped your client accomplish their goals.
Summarize positive changes in a concise bulleted list.
Provide measurable metrics.
If you continue working with the client after the project’s completion, list the metrics you plan to use for ongoing analysis, maintenance, and planning.
5. Pay Attention to Your Writing Style
Entrepreneurs who write case studies often go to one of two extremes: they either compose a whitepaper, or openly advertise their business.
In the first case, the study comes off as a dry, boring, and lifeless report written in niche lingo. Avoid complex professional terms, or at least provide comprehensive definitions.
Hopefully, the majority of your readers will be prospective clients, not colleagues.
Readers may not know about specific tools, terminology, and metrics, so present data in an easy-to-read and digestible form. Consider “callout” boxes for any obscure terms.
You want to emphasize the fact that your staff is capable of managing complex problems, but don’t overdo it.
Speak with expert authority, and back up all your recommendations with facts. Otherwise, your story won’t seem credible.
Try to find a happy medium between these two extremes.
Here are some tips that will help you develop a persuasive writing style:
- Tell a story, don’t just list facts: The structure of a case study can be compared to the structure of a novel. Both have an introduction, a conflict, a climax, and a resolution. Describe your work on the project like a seamless plot, allowing readers to immerse themselves in your story. Infuse tension, suspense, and progress to make your case study truly exciting.
- Present the issue you addressed as the antagonist, and your client as the protagonist: You play the role of a supporting character who helps the protagonist overcome challenges and arrive at a happy ending.
- Show the situation from your client’s point of view: Don’t get so caught up in storytelling that you forget to showcase your client’s opinions. Remember, your client is the key figure in your story, and their point of view matters. Provide direct quotes to add credibility to your case study, but make sure the facts listed in your client’s quotes are not repeated in your own copy.
- Quotes from your team members may also be useful: This will help visitors to your site get to know who will work on their projects.
- Your main task is to satisfy the interest of potential clients: Do not use complex terms or describe technical nuances. A case study is a story about a real-life event, not a presentation for a professional conference.
- Remember your formatting: It can be tedious to read lengthy pieces of text, so split them into paragraphs, and use numbered and bulleted lists, headers, subheaders, and other formatting tools. Sentences should be concise and deliver a single key thought.
6. Use Visuals
Your study should be well-written and professional, and include figures and expert comments. However, that does not mean it has to be gray and dull.
Use visuals to break up blocks of text and deliver important information in a bright and engaging way.
Embed key data in charts and tables. Take screenshots, or use images with your client’s products and logo.
Be sure to proofread and edit your case study.
Once the last line is written, take a break and look at it with fresh eyes after a day or two.
You will be better able to find minor mistakes and add new details.
8. Promote Your Case Study
When the final version of your study is polished and readable, publish it in a special section for case studies on your website, make announcements on social media, and include it in your email marketing campaign to attract more readers.
Consider filming a video version of your case study for release on YouTube.
Send tweets, using quotes from your client and team members.
Analyze your audience engagement by tallying the number of clicks, shares, viewing time, comments, and other indicators.
Doing so will tell you whether you have chosen the right presentation style and promotion channels.
Even if you follow all the above tips, beware of common mistakes that can undermine the goals of your case study.
Avoid these detrimental tactics if you want to write a top-notch success story:
- Too many writers: Involving a large number of colleagues or client representatives in writing your case study can become messy. Divergent viewpoints and bruised egos can quickly undermine your objectives and sabotage your efforts.
- Intrusive brand advertisement: As mentioned above, do not use your case study to openly advertise to readers. If you want your case study to be published on a reputable website, editors will quickly nix anything that is too informal and promotional.
- Forgetting about your target audience: Many specialists write about the things they know, using language that is common to them, without thinking about the potential reader. The success story of your project is not a personal diary. Draw a profile of the average visitor to your site and focus on their needs and interests.
- Too lengthy case studies: Provide only the most valuable details, data, and conclusions. It is hard enough to keep readers focused on your content in the age of information. If your success story is filled with fluff, potential clients may quickly drop it and go elsewhere for more useful data.
- Expecting huge victories and overlooking small achievements: Some companies believe that only large projects deserve to be featured in case studies, and published twice a year. However, visitors to your site may think you only had only two successful projects, and the rest, if any, were failures. Small achievements also matter, helping to build your good name brick by brick.
Keep your case study concise and to the point, and incorporate some of the above tips to improve your writing skills and boost conversions.