Case studies have a huge potential to convert. However, the term doesn't really lend itself to a whole lot of excitement. Memories of term papers or scientific papers laden with field jargon might immediately come to mind.
The truth is that when a case study is created properly, it's not only palatable, but becomes an indispensable tool for your marketing tool belt.
In this post, we'll examine:
- The nature of case studies
- How you can convince a client to participate in a case study
- How to compose a case study
- How to use your case study as a marketing tool that converts
What's are B2B Case Studies and Why Should I Use Them?
Case studies are essentially anecdotal articles that provide concrete proof that your product or service is effective. They share a previous client's experience with your company in a way that gives credibility to your brand.
"...there are only so many ways you can describe yourself. A case study brings your product to life." ~ Andrew Angus, Switch Video
Why do they work? Well, when potential clients visits your website, they're already throwing up mental roadblocks for why they shouldn't work with your company. It's just human nature. You'll likely find that the majority of your clients, if not all, needed some convincing before they signed on the dotted line.
Case studies validate those fears and objections, while providing solid evidence that those same doubts are unfounded. Someone else has tried your product or service and had undeniable success. Sharing a client's positive experience is far more effective than expecting prospects to just take your word for it.
How Can I Get a Client on Board with Becoming a Case Study?
Some clients may feel hesitant to be the subject of your case study. Truth be told, even some B2B companies are reticent about producing case studies. Why all the timidity?
Clients may want to remain anonymous for fear of giving away competitive secrets -- or appearing in a bad light. Additionally, B2B companies may feel hesitant to reveal the names of their clients lest they may be wooed away by another brand. Or they may believe that a case study will reveal too many details regarding their processes.
Let's lay those fears to rest right now. You can still build a case study without revealing your trade secrets or your client names. Instead of naming your client, you can say "This is how we helped one Fortune 500 technology (or name your sector) company." You also don't have to get into the nitty gritty details of your methodology. More about that later.
Some brands have found it useful to offer a discount to clients willing to participate in a case study. Financial incentive usually helps, but more often than not, if a client is delighted with the results you've produced, you won't need to sweeten the pot for sharing the good outcome you've had from working together.
In short, a case study is essentially an elongated testimonial that is backed up with real facts and figures. No threat there.
How to Compose a Brilliant Case Study That Converts
Now that you have your client on board, and you've successfully completed an initiative with your client, how do you write up the case study? And more pointedly, how do you create a case study that converts?
The style and tone of your case study should fit your brand. You may decide to present it as an article, similar in length to a blog post. In that case, aim for 750-1200 words. Or you may decide that your story is better told through visuals. Perhaps a video or a SlideShare would work best. There should be no hard and fast rules for the format of your case study, but it should fit with the identity of your brand and target the interests of your perspective buyers.
Next, let's talk about content. What should you include in your case study? Let's identify several elements that every case study should contain:
- Challenges the client faced
- Concerns the client had with signing with your company
- How your company met those challenges and alleviated the client's concerns (talk about how you tailored your product or service to their needs, etc.)
- Facts and figures to back up your claims (client increased sales from $X to $XX in just 6 months)
- Direct quotes from your client
- A clear call to action
After outlining your client's story, you should keep in mind that a prospect is unlikely to sign up immediately. So refrain from saying things like, click here to start seeing the same growth in your company." Instead, a call to action saying "let's talk" might be more effective. The prospect may still have some concerns and after reading how you helped one company to overcome challenges and roadblocks to success, will likely want to know what you can do for him or her. This is your opportunity to explain your process and results.
What to Do With Your B2B Case Study
Now that you've assembled this beautiful and useful marketing tool, what will you do with it? The key is to market it. One effective way is to do a press release provided your clients is willing. Be sure to include the name of your client in the headline if it is a brand name client; of course you will need your client's permission. This will help boost your search engine ranking not to mention people's interest in your release. You'll also want to pitch your case study to relevant media outlets, who may want to feature your client.
You'll also want to share your case study on social media, particularly on Twitter and LinkedIn. Lastly, you'll want to promote your case study in your owned content. Display a CTA for it prominently on your home page, in your blog posts, and anywhere else on your site that it makes sense to do so.
You also might want to test paid ads such as retargeting ads. Retargeting tracks visitors to your site and displays your ad to them during visits to various sites or social media outlets. So, obviously an attractive CTA, or ad, is crucial to the success of your campaign.
So are case studies worth the investment? You betcha. In fact, go ahead and check out one of our most popular B2B case studies. See how we took an emerging startup and placed it in the limelight in Forbes, Businessweek and on Bloomberg TV? Yes, we helped Pricing Engine receive 20 press mentions, 4,000 page views and 164,300 headline impressions in just 7 months. Check it out!