In a time when much of what you buy is based on peer reviews, there has never been a time when case studies have been more important. This article will take you through the process of how to write perfect case studies and then how to use them to maximise sales.
What is a case study?
Put simply, it is a summary of your engagement with a specific client. Case studies will describe your client, what you did and what you achieved (more detail to follow). They will be no more than two pages (when printed) and should take only a minute or two to read.
What are case studies for?
Case studies show people what your company is capable of delivering. In the same way that a 5-star review will prompt people to buy on Amazon or TripAdvisor, a case study will help potential clients to move closer to buying from you. They are an integral part of your marketing.
How to write perfect case studies
If you haven’t written any case studies yet, the next couple of minutes will give you a very clear, step by step, guide on how to write perfect case studies – case studies that will be highly effective.
1. Identify happy clients
Who is your happiest client? Who has been a client for a long time? Which clients have you generated outstanding results for?
The answers to these questions will give you a list of clients to develop case studies for. Now all you have to do is ask them. Asking them when you are delivering good news always helps.
2. Start writing 4 of the 6 key parts of a great case study
The 4 parts of a case study are:
Who and where are they?
A description of the client, aimed at helping readers identify with them. Companies like to buy from other companies who understand their industry sector.
What is their issue?
What did you help them with? Again, potential clients like to see that you understand the issues they face.
How did you help them?
Probably the least important piece, but still needs to show you know what to do and you have the knowledge and expertise looked for.
What were the results?
Absolutely the most important part. People buy results and success. They want to work with companies that can prove they can deliver. Include numbers to show your results, but be specific. 96% growth, rather than “doubled sales”. Graphics will help communicate these more effectively.
At this point there are two pieces missing from the perfect case study. Let’s look at them in a little more detail.
The newspapers used to refer to the backbench; where the sub-editors used to sit. They were the highly paid specialists responsible for writing headlines that would sell that paper in the millions. A catchy headline would easily divert people from buying one newspaper to another. They wanted to know what the paper had to say, based purely on the headline. Back then, these were highly paid employees – not any more.
But the headline is still vitally important. It will determine whether someone reads the case study or not. So what should be in a headline?
Our latest case study is headlined: Adding a £million to turnover in six years. It communicates a great result; something any small business owner would like to see happen for them. Headlines should be about something the reader cares about: results, money, solutions – are just some examples. There is plenty of guidance online.
Otherwise know as a testimonial, once you’ve done all of the above, you need sign-off from the client, and you need them to validate your case study. In the same way you use product reviews to confirm your choice of a product on an e-commerce site, your prospective clients will use the testimonial to confirm their choices.
Sign-off is simple. You send it to them and they agree that what you have written is accurate. The validation is what they write about you and you then use as proof that you have delivered and you have a very happy client. Their testimonial is the final piece of the perfect case study.
The cynical ones out there could, if there was no testimonial from the client, say you made it up. With the testimonial, that goes away. The only time a happy client is unlikely to give you a testimonial is when you are solving an issue that they shouldn’t have, or they don’t want to admit they have. Insolvency practitioners, for example, can struggle at times.
The best mediums to produce your case studies in
There are a number of different mediums on which to produce your case studies. The different mediums go onto different platforms and can increase the number of people who will see or hear your case studies.
The most common medium and the bare minimum. Written content appearing on your website and, as needed, printed versions you can give out at trade shows or send via direct mail. Well written case studies will improve your website SEO too.
Why not give people the perfect way to consume your case studies whilst they are commuting? Podcasts are becoming more and more popular as a marketing channel and an interview with your client can make a great podcast for your small business.
Roughly a third of all internet time is spent watching video. This is simply because video helps you to both show and tell, so why not use video for your case studies and your marketing? You know that video content is highly powerful and is beloved by the search engines. Video testimonials that support a written case study can really improve the impact of your case studies.
Video testimonials make great social media content too.
The only difficulty is persuading people to appear on video. Lots of people don’t like watching themselves on video, but they may do a podcast??
How to use your case studies to increase sales
Perfect case studies work at both ends of the sales funnel. They will nudge people into starting a conversation with you and they will convince people to sign on the dotted line too. Let’s look at where you should use your case studies to maximise their performance.
On your website
This is the first place to put it because it is rare for someone to enter your sales funnel without at least one visit to your website. Make sure it is used in multiple places across your website. To make them more effective on your website, here’s 4 tips:
- A case study page will show website viewers that you have lots of happy clients.
- Including relevant case studies on the product page will mean they are seen more often, and are more effective.
- Include links from the case study both to the client’s website/social media and to the product/services they bought. This helps both your SEO and the user experience.
- At the end of the case study, ask if this results sounds like something the reader would like for their business. Get them thinking… and acting.
Via social media
Sharing your case studies on your social media channels increases the numbers of times they are seen, particularly if you have video content. Perhaps you can pin, at least for a while, your latest case study to the top of your profile page to maximise views. Check your Analytics to see if it is driving traffic when pinned. If not, unpin it.
Remember that individual case studies can go through social media more than once. Only a small percentage of your followers will see it each time. Not everyday of course!
In your newsletters
If you use a newsletter to keep your mailing list up to date, make sure you include your case studies in there. Mailing lists include clients, prospects, stakeholders, suppliers and networking connections. Showing them the great results you have achieved for a client can encourage new sales (from prospects and current clients buying more/something else) and referrals.
Using email automations
Email automations are great ways to quickly educate new subscribers about what you do, how you help and the results you achieve. Case studies will help these new subscribers to believe your promises. As a Mailchimp Partner, we can help you generate the automations you want.
In your proposals
When you get to the point of developing a proposal for a new client, a great case study, or two, supports your pitch and increases the value propositions. Choose highly relevant case studies. Ones that are for companies with similar issues to your prospect and with a similar profile – industry, company size, location etc. Don’t simply use the same case studies for every proposal.
If you use something like CANDDi, you may want to include links to the case studies in the proposal, rather than the whole things. Knowing that they have clicked through shows the prospect really is interested.
Case studies must be part of your marketing collateral. Used properly the perfect case study can be highly effective. It will help you fill your sales pipeline and they will help your Sales function to close more too.
If you are struggling to write perfect case studies, or you haven’t got any, get in touch. We can help you both produce your case studies and then make use of them to drive more sales.