Imagine looking for a new product to solve a business challenge you currently face. Here are two scenarios:
A. You talk to a salesperson and listen to them list down all the features of the product and how it's precisely what you need.
B. You read customer reviews and see how this product helped people with the same problems as yours.
Are you thinking what I am thinking? Of course, logic would dictate option B as the preferred method.
And this is where case studies come in!
Case studies engagingly present customer reviews that your prospects feel compelled to buy your product or service.
And when it comes to B2B marketing, case studies are a gold mine. According to research, case studies are among the top 3 most effective content types for B2B businesses. They add credibility to your business, demonstrate ROI, and provide substantial lead generation and PR value.
We have covered everything there is to know about a B2B case study — what it is, why write one, and how to write one, along with expert advice from your fellow marketers. Let's do this.
A case study is proof of concept, and it gives the potential client or purchaser a sense of certainty based on documented results instead of only providing a theory.
Case studies usually follow a story structure with a beginning, middle, and end. In simple words, they are a "before and after" representation of other company's successes in the same field as the potential client reading or watching your case study.
For B2B businesses, case studies are a great way to prove how your product or service affects your customers, helps them with their pain points, and delivers their end goals. You can convert a potential buyer into a customer through a well-written case study.
B2B marketing relies heavily on statistics and solid proof that your company does what it claims to do! Storytelling is the vehicle used to deliver these facts to your potential client so that they can be converted into an actual client.
Case studies are a perfect blend of all these things. This is why 42% of B2B marketers plan to increase their production of case studies in 2022.
Kayla Voigt, the founder of KL Voigt Writing Co, says case studies are essential as they show rather than tell the audience how your product drives business value. According to Kayla, "Anybody can say they're number one or best-in-class, but your customers will tell it like it is."
Let's look at the reasons you should start investing in writing case studies for your B2B business.
Absolutely. A case study gives data and statistics that show success with numbers that are irrefutable, and this information is being delivered via storytelling. Storytelling is an art that spans the whole of world history to bring understanding in a format that's deeply ingrained in the human psyche. According to 60% of marketers, case studies are among the most trusted content types that help establish your credibility.
A case study is all about the potential client recognizing that you know and understand their pain points, can empathize with their problems, and are equipped to provide effective solutions. You know what's in their best interest and what steps will help them attain the desired results faster. Case studies also help you build customer loyalty by engaging with satisfied customers and reaffirming why they chose you.
B2B case studies are based on the success of previous clients, therefore making them the epitome of social proof. The fact that you're using a previous client, statistics, and the documented path to success as the basic storyline is everything that is embodied in the concept of social proof.
A whopping 92% of B2B buyers look at reviews before moving forward with a company. Case studies are the perfect way to showcase testimonials and provide social proof.
Your prospects are far less trusting of sales copy and ads and are more interested in what other customers say about you and how they have benefited from your business. With case studies, you prove that you have done what you claim to do and live up to your marketing promises. This convinces the prospect that your company and service or product are the bridge to successfully crossing over from pain and misery to easy victory.
Case studies are a proven method to generate leads and turn prospects into buyers. You have a fantastic story to show your prospects how your business goes above and beyond and delivers the desired results.
Your sales team should share case studies with potential customers because success stories convince them to select your business. The proof is right there for the buyer to see that your products or services work.
So far, we have covered what a case study is and why you should start writing them (now!). Let us show you how to write a killer case study that sells your business effectively.
Before you start writing a B2B case study, there are a few essential steps to cover on your way to creating a stellar piece of content that changes hearts and minds. Let's dig in!
All case studies have one thing in common — they tell the story of another person's success. No one remembers the storyteller; they remember the story. But they can focus on several different goals, and one of the first things you have to do is figure out what you want your customer to gain from a particular case study.
In other words, what will the customer have succeeded in doing by the end of the case study? The goal of your case study will depend on what you want to present to your future customers through this piece.
Your case study can focus on one of the following goals:
Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding, says to focus on the 1:1:1 rule — focus on one challenge of your client, one solution you provided, and one result that came from it. He says, "It's tempting to include more than that, especially if the secondary achievements are also impressive. However, the more you include, the more you dilute the message."
Now that you have figured out what you want to achieve from the case study let's move on to your target audience and create a customer profile. At this point, you should determine the answers to the following questions:
If you are part of the marketing team, you must be in charge of creating the case study. But don't forget to include the sales team as well, as it's one of the biggest mistakes B2B companies make. The sales team's insights from countless conversations with prospects will help you create the ideal customer profile.
Your business must have worked with several customers over the years who can be an excellent fit for the case study. So how do you determine which customer to feature?
That depends on several different factors mentioned below.
The client you decide to feature in the case study should be an excellent fit for the ideal customer profile you have built in the previous step. They should have similar pain points and end goals. They should also have a similar industry or niche to be more relevant. The more you personalize the experience, the easier it is to keep their attention.
Customer relationships are a little tricky. You want to feature those customers with whom you have a great relationship. You don't want a case study about customers with whom you didn't get along or experienced some bumps along the way.
Case studies are a two-way street. You get reviews and testimonials from your customers while promoting their business in return. So feature those customers you are willing to work with again in the future.
Once you find the perfect customer to feature in your case study, it's time to set up an interview. The interview will cover everything you need to write an engaging and detailed case study.
One important thing to note here is — to do your homework as thoroughly as possible. Before the interview, get as much information on the customer as possible. As a starting point, use the questions from the customer profile and determine the customer's pain points, end goals, and buyer journey.
Interviews can be a little challenging to navigate, so we are listing down these ten questions to help you get started.
Apart from these questions, you can also ask your customers to share pictures or videos that show off your product in action.
When coming up with your interview questions, don't forget to ask questions that put the limelight on your client. According to Roy Morejon, President & Co-Founder of Enventys Partners, "Make the customer or client the hero of the story, not you as the business — you're the steward of their journey, not the star."
Your case study's design is significant because a great story deserves a great visual. You want to present your case study in a layout that's engaging and attention-grabbing. Here are a couple of tips to help you design a great case study.
No one wants to read page after page of vast chunks of plain text. So keep your case study easy to read. Break up the content with other visual elements. Apart from white space, you can incorporate elements like bulleted lists, sidebars, and call-out boxes to keep things interesting.
You can also add headings and highlight key points in bold or italics to make essential issues pop out and be easily visible. Add fonts that are easy to read on-screen. Some examples can be Sans Serif fonts like Arial or Helvetica.
Images are great for breaking text-heavy content. Add pictures and screenshots to show your product or service. Add screenshots to give visual examples of the process you mention in the case study. You can also use images to summarize complex topics.
Include short videos in the case study as 84% of people would rather see the video if both text and video are available on the same page.
Liam Carnahan, Content and SEO Strategist and Coach, talks about the power of good design in case studies. "A clean layout and nice visuals, especially if you can show the actual product and results, can make a huge difference. These visual assets can also help you get a longer lifespan out of your case study, with new assets to promote as you wish", he says.
White space is your friend, and you have to treat it as such. If reading your case study looks overwhelming to the reader, they will find something else to do.
Use plenty of white space to break your story into sections and subsections. Add shorter paragraphs and use short sentences. You want the readers' eye to skim down the page effortlessly.
We have talked a lot about what things to checkmark before writing a case study. Now let's turn to the next question on your mind.
"How do I write a case study?"
We have got you covered. Understanding how to write a case study is an invaluable skill, especially as a marketer. There are many things to cover, from the headline and content to design and layout. It can start to feel overwhelming so let's break it down.
The overview statement is like a mini-executive summary. It should immediately grab the reader's attention.
Your overview statement should be no more than two sentences. One quick hack is to write the overview statement after you are done writing the case study to summarize the most critical points effectively.
Adding a direct quote from your customer serves as social proof and drives home the point your case study is making.
Choose a quote that encapsulates your customer's problem and how you helped them overcome it. It should be a brief and direct overview of how your service or product helped them achieve their end goals.
In this section, describe your customer's pain points briefly. Discuss the issues and challenges they were facing before they started looking for a solution.
When writing case studies, the most important thing is to incorporate storytelling. As marketers, it's tempting to quote various stats and add technical details of the problems. But to get your prospects to read through the whole case study, you have to add an element of storytelling with a dash of facts.
According to Nia Gyant, B2B Content Marketer, "Emotion is the main driver of decision-making and, since case studies are intended to draw potential customers to the solutions of the companies who create them, leveraging emotion is necessary for the greatest impact."
This is your time to shine!
Summarize the solution you provided to your customers. Describe how your product or service helped them achieve their desired results. This is also a great time to add a direct quote from your customers to show how you have helped them reach their end goals.
The great thing about case studies is that you have an excellent opportunity to show the real-life results of your product or service. Instead of showing features of your products, demonstrate how it has helped your customers.
Add statistics to show the results you have accomplished for your client. Use quotes from clients on how your solution has directly resulted in achieving this outcome. You can also talk about specific business benefits like a 40% increase in leads, 100+ newsletter sign-ups in a month, a 60% increase in revenue within three months, and much more.
Writing a B2B case study can be a little daunting at first. But once you get the hang of it and have the proper framework in place, it can be pretty fun.
For B2B businesses, case studies are the most effective tool to show their credibility, generate sales, and show social proof. And you are well on the way to mastering them.
The fundamentals of a case study — knowing how to choose customers, conduct interviews, write engagingly, and structure it properly — will help you write a fantastic result-driven case study.
We have covered quite a lot about B2B case studies in this article. What's left is for you to go out there and start writing a great case study for your business.
Write 10x faster, engage your audience, & never struggle with the blank page again.