Stop for a minute and go back to the last time you made a buying decision for a product or service to achieve your business goals.
How did you make that decision?
Did you go online, see the website copy and marketing collateral, and then decide to buy? Or did you research for actual customer reviews, read up on their experience, and then make your decision?
Chances are you did your research, read customer testimonials, saw how the business was helping their existing customers, and then made your decision.
And you are not alone — 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading reviews they trust.
A customer case study lets you show real tangible results achieved through your product or service. In B2B marketing, a case study is one of the most effective ways to show your business' worth, capability, and credibility.
So, what does a case study include?
A case study is an in-depth description of how your business's product or service has benefitted a particular client, solved their pain points, and helped them meet a business goal. A case study proves that your business truly delivers on its promise.
Let's say you are a B2B company [Company A] that provided digital marketing services to another business [Company B]. One example of a case study can be "How Company A helped Company B increase their email open rate by 10%."
If case studies provide customer recommendations, why make all that extra effort when you can use customer testimonials?
Well, not quite so.
Case studies are more detail-oriented and go in-depth about the costs involved, the return on investment (ROI), and the processes included. A customer testimonial is much less detailed and doesn't describe the strategies involved in achieving those results.
A case study includes specific details and data points, including the customer's problems, the systems they had in place, and the challenges they were facing. It also includes a detailed description of how your business helped them solve their pain points, what solutions you provided, and how those solutions helped them reach their goals.
A case study is the most effective way to attract new customers and prove your credibility. According to LinkedIn's Demand Gen Report 2018, case studies are the go-to resource before making a decision, with 79% of respondents consuming them in the past 12 months.
So, how can case studies help your business? Let's have a look.
Customer case studies are among the top three most effective content pieces for B2B companies.
A case study allows you to highlight your success stories convincingly if done right. It shows prospective customers all the reasons why they should buy from you.
A good case study immediately establishes trust, authority, and tells prospective customers you know what you are doing. It also shows them your business isn't making false promises and it delivers the results it guarantees.
Case studies are an excellent resource for your sales team to show how your business delivers the promised results. Your salespeople can use a case study to show how your business helped other companies with similar problems and challenges.
Case studies also allow your sales team to focus more on the benefits a prospective customer will receive rather than harping about the features of the product or service you are offering.
Tom Bangay, Director of Content and Community at Juro, emphasizes involving the sales team when building case studies. He says, "Case studies are sales collateral — they should be led by what your sales team needs to close more deals faster. Whether that's focusing on a particular use case, industry, integration, and so on — start from sales and work backward."
20–50% of sales directly happen through word-of-mouth marketing.
So how do you get passionate brand advocates in front of prospects? Through case studies.
Real stories from genuine customers amplify your business's results to grab your prospects' attention and convince them to buy from you. Case studies also help your prospects through their buying journey and help establish yourself as a market leader.
Case studies are a great content resource. The demand for B2B content production is on the rise. A well-written case study helps prospective clients decide and drives traffic to your website.
You can also repurpose case studies into blogs, newsletters, social media content, all of which can help you increase your SEO traffic.
Now that we agree that case studies are essential for B2B businesses, let's move on to building a case study.
And the first question that comes to our mind is — what does a case study contain?
Imagine that your case study is a story. Like any other story, it takes your customers on a journey. Rather than adding statistics left, right, and center, a good case study gets your reader to relate to the story. So, what elements should your story include?
Writing a case study can be overwhelming at first. You might not know where to start, what to add, or how to format it.
But the good news is, we’ve got you covered. Let's dive into some of the things you need to keep in mind when writing your case study.
In the third person point of view, you refer to your customer as "they" while narrating the story of your case study.
Writing in the third person helps your reader relate more to the story. It also allows for an omniscient point of view, allowing you to establish yourself as an authority over the subject matter.
Data adds credibility. Ask your customer to share any statistics related to the case study.
What results did they see? What improvement did they notice? Did the revenue increase? Did employees save time? By how much? Over how long?
These statistics will help reinforce your story and make a compelling case study.
A convincing case study relies on the customer's data, so including your numbers is great, but getting their data is the key to finding compelling statistics.
Amanda Natividad, VP of Marketing at SparkToro, says, "Your customer doesn't want to talk about how fantastic your solution is — they want to talk about how they were successful with your solution."
Adding visuals keeps your readers engaged while also highlighting the key points. To make your case study stand out, you can add the following visual elements:
You want your audience to read the whole thing and not give up in the middle because it had too many unnecessary details. Don't add many details and focus on the main points in each section.
Make sure the terminology you are using is readily understandable and easy. Convert the complex technical terms to easily comprehensible language.
James Parkinson, Head of Marketing Content at Personnel Checks, talks about the importance of keeping case studies short and says, "We focus on designing our case studies to be an interesting short read rather than an in-depth study that most people won't read."
The key to a good conclusion is summarizing the story's main points with a CTA that motivates your reader to take the desired action.
Focus on the results achieved in the conclusion while encouraging your readers to get in touch with you or schedule a demo call.
Before deciding which customer to feature, focus on the purpose behind creating the case study.
The first question to answer — what do you want to get out of your case study? Mainly, case studies help win over prospects close to making a buying decision.
But there can be various reasons why you create case studies. Some of them include:
You must have several happy customers who can be a great subject for your case study.
So, how do you decide which customer to feature?
Focusing on your target audience, answer the following questions:
You must have your target audience already mapped out, so start from there. Once you know exactly who you are targeting through the case study, go through your list of happy customers and find a buyer representative that fits that audience.
Try to be specific to their problems, goals, and industries. The more personalized the case study, the more it will resonate with them.
You have decided who you want to feature in your case study. So, how do you approach them?
There is no particular way to ask customers to participate in your case studies. Some companies do it through email, while others schedule a Zoom call, and some might even discuss it in person.
Here are the basics that will help you get the "Yes, I am in" you are after.
Eric Doty, Content Lead at Butter, talks about their process for case studies interviews. They send a Typeform survey with about ten questions and ask them to provide a headshot and screenshots of themselves using Butter.
"I then book a 30-minute follow-up call with them to get them to tell their story in their own words — you get way more interesting content when you just let people talk about themselves and their experiences," he concludes.
Planning the content of the case study can be daunting. With so much material at hand, you might not know what to prioritize and how to structure it.
This is where your storytelling comes in!
B2B case studies are written by businesses for businesses. But it's people who read them and make buying decisions.
And no one can resist a good story. Applying the art of storytelling makes your case study irresistible to put down.
To write a great case study, incorporate a narrative arc — how a character faces a challenge, struggles against the raising stakes, and then encounters a massive obstacle before the story's resolution.
Let's have a look at the narrative arc in the context of your case study:
The final paragraph also includes a CTA where you ask readers to contact you or request a demo or a free consultation.
Alex Birkett, Head of Sales and Marketing at Omniscient Digital, enforces the idea of storytelling in your case study. He says, "Focus on telling the story, not just the facts. If you infuse tension, suspense, and progress (or conflict, climax, and resolution), you can take readers on a journey, which will evoke emotion, and, at best — action. The best stories relate to your customer's challenges and keep their interest and curiosity."
According to Alex, if you are bored while writing the case study, your reader will be bored while reading it, so make sure to add emotion to it.
After doing all the research and taking as many notes as possible, it's time to create the content.
And of course, you start with the outline of the case study.
When writing your outline, keep the following points in mind:
We have everything in place — in-depth research, real data and statistics, and a solid outline.
It's time we start writing our case study. Let's begin!
The introduction section of the B2B case study revolves around the client. Give a detailed introduction to what your client does, which industry they are in, and their services or products.
Add their website, LinkedIn company page, and other corporate collateral.
If your case study has nothing but a description of some dry facts with numbers, it's not going to invoke any emotions for your reader.
To make the study relatable, showcase the whole process; the problems faced by the client that compelled them to find a solution, what led them to your business, and how you solved their pain points and helped them achieve their results.
Allow your audience to empathize with and identify with your client.
Here comes the fun part — adding testimonials.
You can sprinkle testimonials throughout your case study — especially at the end when you are talking about the results achieved through your business.
Add a 2 to 3 paragraph testimonial that shows how you understood the customer's needs, how they benefited from your business, and how you helped them achieve their goals. Also include numbers to quantify your contributions.
Julia Gifford, Co-founder of Truesix, focuses on quantifying success as much as possible. She says, "You want your future clients to see themselves in these case studies, and that means that they too can achieve an X% increase in their results."
Okay, so you just finished writing the case study.
Good news — the hardest part is over. Now is the time for edits and revisions.
And if you are a little impatient (it's okay, we are too!), you might feel like skipping this step. But editing and proofreading can turn good stories into great ones.
You can do two different rounds of editing and revisions. Have a look below:
This step includes feedback from people in your team. Is your case as engaging as it could be? Are there any grammatical errors or typos? Are all the stats verified?
After doing your first round of revisions, you can send the case study to the customer to get their feedback. This makes them feel like you value their opinion and strengthen your relationship with them.
Now that the content of your case study is ready, it's time to format the layout and add visuals to it.
Visuals are an important part of a case study. Your reader won't feel motivated to read page after page of text, so adding visual elements is essential to enhance readability. Visual elements also help highlight key points, data, and statistics.
Throughout your case study, you can add images, infographics, charts, and screenshots.
Another great way to make your case study more engaging is by adding video content, as 84% of people prefer to see videos to learn about a product or service. You can also do a short video testimonial and add that to the case study.
A simple layout for your case study is practical, and it doesn't overwhelm the reader. One easy way to format your case study is by keeping the background a clean white and then using slim lines to separate the sections.
Making the background simple improves the accessibility of the design and helps draw attention to the more important points.
Just because it's a B2B case study doesn't mean it has to be boring. With the creative use of fonts, colors, and icons, you can make your case study visually appealing.
The case study shown below has a blend of different font colors to help differentiate between headers and the content. With stand-out icons and the use of different colors, the key statistics pop, and your eyes move to these highlighted sections as soon as you look at them.
Charts and graphs are a great way to visualize data and bring statistics and numbers to life. You can make information easier to understand through charts while highlighting trends or patterns.
The example below shows an increasing pattern in the quality of leads generated. Charts also help compare the results with the previous numbers in an easier way.
There are several ways to highlight key data, like the results achieved or increased revenue.
You can use icons to highlight these areas of your case study as they help summarize information quickly. Icons also help draw your reader's attention to certain areas of the page.
The case study below has icons highlighting all the important statistics.
You did it. Your case study is all written and designed.
And now, it's time to publish it.
There are various ways to publish your case study, and we cover some of them below.
You should have a separate page on your website exclusively for all your case studies. You can call this page 'Case Studies,' 'Our Success Stories,' or 'Customer Reviews.' Make sure that this page is visible to your visitors so they can easily find it.
When it comes to the page's structure, you can add challenges, goals, processes, and results in order.
You have published your case study. What's the next step?
Write a blog about it.
To convert your case study into a blog, write it in such a way that identifies with your audience's needs.
Your title focused on how Company A helped Company B achieve a specific goal (increasing website traffic to 100k+ monthly visitors) with a case study. Your title should be result-focused for a blog, like "How to Increase Your Website Traffic to 100k+ Monthly Visitors [A Case Study]".
Remember to center the blog post around the blog's readers and not the customer of the case study. A mixture of statistics, practical tips, and examples from the case study should comprise the blog post of a mixture of statistics, practical tips, and examples from the case study.
You should also include a Call-to-Action (CTA) at the end of the blog post to encourage readers to download the full case study.
Apart from having a dedicated section for your case studies, adding pop-ups is another way to put them in front of your audience.
I know what you are thinking!
Pop-ups are annoying, and people don't like them.
That's true. But when done right, pop-ups are a great way to capture your visitors' attention while not disturbing them. You can add relevant and discreet slide-in CTAs instead of huge ones that take over the whole page.
One example is to add a slide-in pop-up on your product page with a link to a relevant case study of a customer who has seen impressive results using that product. The pop-up becomes relevant, and the visitor is more likely to click on it.
Many B2B businesses don't use the full potential of social media. Case studies are the perfect material to share on your social accounts.
Are you wondering how to share it on social media? Let us tell you:
Case studies are excellent material to add to your email marketing campaigns, especially in product-specific lead nurture campaigns.
You can also add case studies in campaigns to re-engage leads that have gone quiet and were interested in a specific product or service that the case study is about.
Providing social proof at the right time in the buyer journey not only enforces your message but also encourages prospects to make their buying decisions in your favor.
When your prospects are actively comparing businesses to solve their problem, sending them a case study in an independent PDF format might just be the reason they opt to buy from you.
Both marketing and sales can use case studies as PDFs in web content, email collateral, or presentations and follow-ups.
Using PDF format of case studies during the sales process can help:
Videos are quickly becoming the go-to content, with more than 50% of consumers preferring videos from brands than any other type of content. Creating videos from your case studies is an effective way to communicate your business's value proposition.
Videos also help your prospects remain engaged compared to reading a lengthy piece of content.
You have made it to the end (almost).
We've discussed everything you need to know about creating a successful B2B case study. Now we'll look at some examples that you can use for inspiration. Let's go!
This case study by Airplane is a perfect example of keeping it simple and to the point without adding any fluff.
The case study begins with an introduction of Copy AI and dives into how and why they use Airplanes. It also details the problems faced by Copy AI, presents Airplane as the solution, moves on to the results, and ends with a customer testimonial.
The case study layout is short and straightforward to ensure maximum readability.
Ravi Parikh, the co-founder of Airplane, talks about how important case studies are for driving growth. He says, "At my previous startup, I saw first-hand how impactful having a lot of great case studies – high quantity and high quality – was to driving growth. As a result, at Airplane, I've prioritized case studies as one of the most important early growth levers. Copy AI is an awesome way to drive velocity and quality on these."
Plaid is crushing the case study game. Their case study featuring the payment system Wave hits all the right notes.
The case study has CTAs at the beginning to get readers to take action even at the start. Plaid does a great job of summarizing the problem and the solution.
The statistics are also highlighted and discussed separately to draw attention. They also show a visual representation of how Plaid fits into the Wave journey, which is like a cherry on top.
Can we talk about what a great idea it is to start the case study with a written and video testimonial from the customer?
In this case study, Omniscient focuses on how AppSumo grew traffic and revenue through its services. The content is customer-focused which gives it a storytelling approach.
Although the case study is content-heavy and long, it's worth reading. Omniscient does a great job of keeping it interesting by breaking it into sections and adding images throughout the case study.
Hootsuite's case study featuring Amway is a great example of how a simple layout can make a text-heavy case study look easy to read and not overwhelming to the reader.
The case study breaks into different sections and columns and has plenty of images throughout. The testimonials are highlighted, so the reader's attention goes to them as soon as they are on the page.
Hootsuite also does a great job visualizing how Amway utilizes Hootsuite and the benefits Amway has gained from employing the social media management tool.
You can't help but fall in love with this amazingly designed case study by Webflow.
This case study has a strong introduction, including stats and solid results. Webflow also shows HelloSign as their equal partner and features them equally throughout the case study.
The case study has a simple layout with sections for problem, solution, and results. In the end, it also answers an important question that can come to the mind of prospective customers at the time of making a buying decision.
Loom's case study with Intercom is a fantastic example of a mixed media case study.
The case study starts with an overview and then has a video that explains how Intercom uses Loom to achieve its goals.
The case study then has a testimonial that sticks out from the rest of the content. The problem, solution, and results are discussed in separate sections. The case study ends with a strong CTA encouraging readers to try Loom for free.
Rutter's case study is an excellent example that showcases icons and section breaks to increase readability. They also use a simple layout that doesn't overwhelm the reader.
The testimonials added throughout the case study are highlighted to drive the message home.
The conclusion of the case study lists down three reasons why Rutter is a competitive advantage. The section is amplified using icons and different columns.
The case study ends with 'The Future' section discussing the goals ahead for Rutter and Uncapped. It also has a testimonial at the end, which wraps up things nicely.
HubSpot does a fantastic job with its case studies. Interestingly, this case study is how it leads with the customer and the result they accomplished.
The case study starts with the introduction of Handled and why the CEO of Handled decided to onboard a CRM. When it comes to emphasizing success, the title highlights how Handled grew to 121 locations using HubSpot.
It's a mixed media case study — with a short video and additional text showing you don't have to do one or another. You can add both content and video in a case study.
Asana's case studies are a great example of incorporating storytelling to make it impossible for readers to leave in the middle of reading.
This case study focuses on Autodesk and is told entirely from the customer's perspective, i.e., the Head of Project Management, Joël St-Pierre.
The case study is sprinkled with quotes from St.Pierre to break up the wall of text and make it more engaging.
Zendesk's case study featuring Airbnb reads like a blog post. It also focuses equally on Zendesk and Airbnb, showcasing a true partnership between the companies.
The content of the case study is also very captivating, starting with "Halfway around the globe is a place to stay with your name on it. At least for a weekend."
Zendesk has done a great job at storytelling. Rather than making the case study stiff and dry, they have focused on igniting emotions in the reader.
B2B case studies can be tedious and overwhelming but also one of the most rewarding pieces of content you will create.
You can establish credibility with a case study while also showing off your work. Case studies are the perfect way to share your expertise and build trust with a prospective customer.
Writing a B2B case study is easy once you have a structure in place. Take time to gather all the data and information, interview your customer, and see what material to use.
Don't forget to edit, proofread, and then edit some more. Design a simple layout, and your case study is ready to be published and promoted.
And now that you know all this, you are ready to step into the real world and create a compelling action-driven B2B case study!
Write 10x faster, engage your audience, & never struggle with the blank page again.