For many companies, case studies – content that tells a story of how their products or services have been successfully used by customers – are an afterthought. While they require more time and investment than many other types of content, it’s worth the extra effort to make them a cornerstone of your marketing efforts. In this blog, learn why case studies are such an effective marketing tool and how you can craft a plan to procure them.
Case Studies: The Basics
Most company websites today include a few testimonials, quoted sentences that highlight a previous customers’ satisfaction with your solutions. While this is a great way to showcase honest customer reviews, testimonials should not be your only customer stories. They should whet the appetite of prospective customers and leave them wanting more of the story.
A case study should outline the full trajectory of a client’s experience with your company. Here are some key points to address:
- How did the customer find you? Did another customer refer them to you?
- What is the scope of the challenges that the customer faced? Did they try to resolve them previously on their own or through another vendor?
- Provide an in-depth explanation of your solution. What differentiates you from your competition?
- Provide specific metrics for how success was measured for the client.
- Detail any adjustments or updates that were made after the solution was implemented to highlight the ongoing nature of your relationship and your dedication to ensuring the best outcomes for the client.
- Include several quotes from the individuals who specifically benefited from the solution so that readers can understand the full range of benefits of your product or service.
- Make a short reference to the service or product that your customer benefited from. This could include a link to a product or solution landing page.
Once your case study is complete, it can be reformatted for various marketing channels. In addition to appearing on your website, it can be shared via social media and email, turned into an infographic, and linked to in blogs or other places on your website for maximum exposure. If you want to get even more creative, parts of your case study could even be turned into videos. However, keep in mind that it is recommended that videos serve as supplemental content to long form written case studies.
Another benefit of case studies is that they are niche-specific. This means that, if developed properly, your case study will not be too vague and will resonate well with your target audience. Additionally, this type of content can solidify your brand image. For example, if you are a small or medium sized company working with a larger organization with nationally recognized brand presence, your status in the industry is likely to improve. For maximum exposure, you should coordinate with your client’s marketing team to have them share the completed case study through their own marketing channels. Of course, perhaps the biggest benefit of case studies is that they allow you to provide specific proof that your company’s products and solutions lead to real results. Simply put, case studies allow your successes to speak for themselves.
Case Studies: Incentivize Your Customers
As a marketer, I have learned that many companies have great intentions when it comes to incorporating case studies into their marketing plans. The biggest hurdle for many of them is actually creating them. Naturally, case studies require more planning, coordination, time and effort by nature. The first obstacle is often making a connection with the appropriate people on the customer side and then convincing them to make time commitments and meet deadlines. In today’s hectic world, it can be difficult for customers to commit to something that on the surface does not seem to benefit them. Here’s how you can prove the value of case studies to your customers and make the case study creation process seamless and repeatable.
1. Create a formal submission and request document.
Depending on the company, industry, geography, etc., there may be legal requirements that have to be met before a customer proceeds with a case study. In some instances, you may not have permission to use a client’s name, and in those cases referencing the industry will still result in an impactful case study.
2. Develop a rapport with your sales team.
Sales teams are typically on the front lines interacting with customers every day and will easily be able to identify success stories, so it is key that they understand the value of case studies. Be sure that they are clear on the full process of requesting and creating case studies.
3. Offer incentives to your employees and customers.
As part of your formal plan, it is a great idea to offer small monetary or gift rewards to employees who recruit customers to participate in case studies. This is an especially important piece of your plan if you’ve been struggling to get other teams on board or if the number of recommended customers seems to dwindling. It can also be effective (and fun) to offer gifts, product or service discounts, prizes, or other incentives to customers who agree to invest the time and effort to help create a case study. However, these approaches should be used with caution and are best applied as a short-term, rather than a long-term solution.
4. Provide marketing value to the customers doing the case studies.
Case studies are not just about tooting your own horn – they can provide real marketing value to your customers as well. In your plan, clearly explain how you will be promoting them by linking to the homepage from your website, mentioning them on social media, and promoting their brand through email. It’s truly a win-win situation for both parties.
5. Be flexible for your customers.
You want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to create a case study. Create a template that guides them to provide the information you need. Also recognize that some customers will want to write content themselves, while others may want to provide information verbally. Recognize your clients’ preferences and try to adjust to them to make it as convenient as possible for them to participate.
Case studies can be an excellent showcase of your company’s successes. If you want to get started with incorporating this into your marketing strategy but don’t have the resources, contact us today.