How to craft a killer case study

Oct 16, 2015 by
How to craft a killer case study

Among the various forms of social proof you can display on your site, nothing is more powerful than an excellently written, relatable case study for one of your clients.

While not as easy to put together as a testimonial, the rewards of featuring a case study (or several) on your site are much more significant.

After reading a glowing case study, potential clients will have tangible evidence that your claims are based on a solid foundation, and that you have the ability to deliver a similar level of results to them as you have with your previous clients. Here are some tips for crafting an expert case study that will convey your business in a radiantly positive light.

Choose the right client

You have several factors to consider when choosing which client to write about, and there are no right or wrong answers (provided that you actually created quantifiably good results for them). You may wish to pick a highly reputable company or established thought leader, should you be lucky enough to have worked with one. Alternatively, picking a likeable “everyman” who your other clients will find relatable might be the path to go. You may also wish to pick a client who had previously worked with a competitor in order to highlight the strengths of your business. In any case, the quantifiable results need to be exceptional and thus, worthy of further elaboration.

The interview

Once the client has agreed to be featured, you have a choice in regards to how you want to conduct the interview. I personally favour sending the questions via email and having the client take the time to think before crafting their written responses. However, not every client is comfortable with written interviews and they may instead favour something more personal – in which case, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. The goal of the interview is to accumulate an abundance of information which can then be narrowed down to create a compelling story. Try asking the following questions:

  • What kind of problems were you facing before doing business with us?
  • What goal did you hope to achieve with our product/service?
  • What differentiates our brand from the crowd?
  • What quantifiable results have you received?

The golden storytelling formula

Once the interview is complete, the next step is to cut away the extraneous information and weave a relatable narrate that not only conveys your expertise and capabilities, but also elicits positive emotions. Follow these 5 steps for storytelling success.

1 – Backstory: Provide an introduction about your client and their business (if applicable). Don’t be afraid of including some personality traits and hobbies which have nothing to do with the business transaction – the more human and relatable your client the better!

cambridge-web-marketing-co--case-study-sub-image2 – Problem: This part is pretty straightforward. What problem was your client facing before they found you? Describe this in detail and always try to include the emotional ramifications of this negative situation as well as the monetary, again for relatability purposes.

3 – Solution: This is where you can really showcase your ability to assess your client’s needs and draw from your pool of experience in order to formulate a tailored solution. Potential clients need the assurance that you will take their needs seriously and that you’re not going to drop the ball once they’ve made a monetary commitment.

4 – Results: Here’s the exciting part. Highlight the key metrics which indicate how your products or services have skyrocketed their web traffic, conversions, golf technique, dating life, lawnmowing efficiency and so forth. You may wish to take some inspiration from infographics and use creative data visualisations to display these metrics (if appropriate).

5 – Insights: To substantiate the aforementioned metrics, a human voice is required to round off the case study. You may wish to include: quotes from project leaders about the positive impact your company made on them, unexpected successes and positive side effects, unique anecdotes and perhaps even a few things that didn’t quite go according to plan (so long as the case study is overwhelmingly positive, minor slip ups are expected and can actually boost credibility).

Formatting and display

Many of the writing rules for blog posts apply for case studies: ensure the information is digestible with catchy subheadings, don’t make viewers drown in a sea of text, keep the style and tone consistent, use images where appropriate and most importantly, proofread meticulously! Once your case study is finished, display it on your site in a place that is immediately viewable – a clearly labelled ‘case studies’ heading on your homepage’s menu bar is ideal.

For one final piece of advice, Siobhán McGinty, campaign marketing manager at HubSpot, advocates pulling quotes from your case study interview and using them to jazz up your landing pages:

“Once you complete a case study, you’ll have a bank of quotes and results you can pull from. Including quotes on product pages is especially interesting. If website visitors are reading your product pages, they are in a “consideration” mindset, meaning they are actively researching your products, perhaps with an intent to buy. Having customer quotes placed strategically on these pages is a great way to push them over the line and further down the funnel.”