What is a case study?
Case studies contain accounts from your customers that showcase how your products or services solved their problems. These studies are like stories — you have a protagonist (the client), a problem, and a solution. Your case study analysis (or story) can vary in length.
As you create your case study, you should structure it so your audience can see themselves as the customer. You want them to get in the client’s shoes. You must tell a compelling story that gets your audience invested in your case study.
Think of a case study as an in-depth review of your business. You use a client’s experience to show why your business is the best fit for someone’s needs.
Why should I create a case study?
As you learn more about case studies, you may wonder why they’re so valuable.
Let’s look at three reasons case studies matter to your company:
1. Case studies are effective
The biggest reason to use case studies is they’re effective. When people read case studies, they understand your business better. It effectively works to build your audience’s perception of your company.
When you create case studies, you help people understand your business better. From understanding what you do to how you operate, you provide your audience with valuable insight.
Considering 66% of business-to-business (B2B) marketers find case studies to be effective, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to engage and delight your audience with them.
2. Case studies provide social proof
If someone hasn’t worked with your business or purchased your products, they need validation that you’re the right choice. They turn to information, like reviews and case studies, to see how others felt about working with your company.
With case studies, you provide social proof of the excellent work you do.
You share an authentic experience from someone who worked with your company. People see firsthand what it was like to work with you or to use your products. It makes them feel confident in contacting or choosing your business.
3. Case studies build trust
Case studies build trust with your audience.
When prospective leads see others validating the work you do or endorsing your products, it increases their confidence in your business. Your audience will see others having a positive experience and trust that you’ll provide them with the same experience.
When you build trust with your audience, they’re more likely to choose your company.
How to write a case study
Are you ready to start creating your case study?
Check out these eight steps on how to write a business case study!
1. Determine your case study’s purpose
Before you dive into the nitty-gritty of creating a case study, determine your case study’s purpose. Don’t create a study without one. If there’s no direction with your case study, you’ll leave your audience feeling confused as to why you composed this case study in the first place.
Be realistic about the purpose of your case study. Your case study isn’t going to perform as well as an informative blog post on an industry topic. It’s a piece of content that appeals to people close to converting.
Your case study may not garner as much engagement, but that’s okay!
If you have a real purpose for your case study, you won’t feel disappointed with the results. You can set simple objectives, like generating leads, to help you create real results with your case study.
2. Choose the right clients to use in your case study analysis
If you want to know how to write a case study successfully, start by choosing the right clients to showcase in your case study. You must find the right candidate to appeal to your audience. Focus on finding a client enthusiastic about your products or services.
You want the client to show how much they love your products or services. Without some enthusiasm or passion from your customer, you won’t know how to write a business case study that engages your audience and gets them to keep reading.
When choosing a client for your case study analysis, make sure they meet the following requirements:
- Enthusiastic about your products or service
- Understands your products or operation of your services well enough to discuss them
- Gives permission to share data, like revenue increases, with readers
- Got results that significantly and positively impacted their company
Additionally, focus on well-known clients, if possible. While this isn’t a requirement, it’s helpful if you’re trying to build engagement and increase trust. If someone sees a brand they know, they’re more likely to read the case study.
Important note: Before creating a case study analysis, always get permission from your client first! You’re going to share their results and their story, so you must ensure your client is comfortable with you disclosing that information.
3. Choose the right medium to present your case study
When you create your case study, you must choose the right medium for showcasing your information. The way you share the information can influence how your audience engages with your content.
There are three case study formats:
Written: These case studies are the most widely used option when presenting a client’s story. They typically come in the format of an ebook, where users can download the information into a PDF to read more.
Video: As video continues to grow in popularity, video case studies are becoming increasingly popular. You can shoot an interview with a client to capture their experience with your business.
Infographic: This case study format is great if you’re looking to present a lot of data. Infographics help readers digest information easier, so they can take away the most important points from your case study.
Before writing your case study, choose a format that works best for you and your client. For each case study, you can use a different format. It’s up to you to decide how you want to present the information from your clients to your audience!
4. Ask the right questions
As you’re gearing up to interview your client, make sure you’re asking the right questions.
You want to use questions that allow you to construct a quality narrative.
Don’t ask yes or no questions. Yes or no questions don’t require explanation or expansion, which will leave you struggling for information. Stick to open-ended questions that encourage your clients to talk more.
Here are some example questions you can ask when interviewing for a case study analysis:
- What challenges did you face before finding our products/services?
- What were your goals for your company, and how did we help you achieve those goals?
- What made our company stand out from the competition?
- How has your business benefitted from using our products/services?
These questions provide information that you can use in the case study. It will also help you get direct quotes from your clients.
By asking the right questions, you’ll create a more informative and engaging case study.
5. Let your clients tell the story
To know how to create a case study that engages your audience, you must know how to present your client’s story. The biggest mistake companies make is morphing the client’s story to be about their company, rather than the client’s experience.
Future leads don’t want to hear a sales pitch about how great your company is and how you’ll work great for them. They want to see someone else’s experience and understand how they perceive your business, products, or services.
Your audience wants to see authentic experiences that reflect your company and the work you do. If you want to know how to write a business case study that works, start by letting your clients tell their story.
Give your clients a voice when you compose your case study. You want the information to come directly from them. Include direct quotes and integrate them into your text to increase validation and credibility for your business.
When you use direct quotes, don’t repeat the same information in the text after it.
It’s best to let the quote speak for itself.
For example, let’s say a client says: “Company A’s software helped my team increase their efficiency, which allowed us to spend more time getting to know our customers and what they needed from us.”
Right after inserting that quote, you wouldn’t want to say: “As you can see, Company A was able to increase their efficiency through using our software, which helped them spend more time with their clients.”
That would be a repeat of what the client said. Instead, let the quotes speak for themselves. They’ll have a larger impact if you leave them as they are without overexplaining what the quotes mean.
By letting your clients tell the story, you’ll see more success with your case studies.
6. Make sure your case study works for everyone
If you want to know how to write a case study successfully, start by creating a case study that works for everyone.
You’re going to have prospects interested in your business for different reasons. You must compose your case study in a way that, even if it isn’t relevant to their situation, they can get something out of it.
Create compelling angles for your case studies, but don’t exclude parts of your audience in the process.
Essentially, make your case studies universal to people who read them. Even if they wouldn’t use your company for the same reasons, they can see how your company would help them with their specific problems.
Let’s say you offer software that allows companies to organize and prioritize team tasks.
You create a case study analysis that looks at how a wedding planning company used your tool to help clients stay organized on their wedding day and prevent fewer things from going wrong on the wedding day.
While using the organization tool for wedding planning doesn’t apply to everyone who visits your site, they can still see the value in it. They understand that your software helps people miss fewer tasks and manage big projects, which benefits their company.
If you want to know how to write a business case study, make it easy for everyone to see the value of hiring your company or purchasing your products or services.
7. Show your audience rather than tell
As you’re composing your case study, make sure you’re showing your audience success rather than telling them. A lot of companies make the mistake of droning on about them making clients successful.
Your audience doesn’t want to hear it — they want to see it.
If you want to know how to write a case study that makes an impact on your audience, use data and facts. Show your audience how much money your clients saved or how many new customers they earned.
When you show your audience the results, it will resonate with them more and help them see the potential of working with your company.
8. Promote your case study
The last step in how to write a case study is simple — promote your case study. People won’t always find your case study on their own, so you must share and promote it on relevant platforms.
With any case study you create, you can link to it within the content on your site.
Whether it’s a pricing page or blog post, if it’s relevant, you can link to it and drive people to your case study.
Additionally, you can share your case studies through social media. Whether it’s a video or a link to your case study, you can help your social media followers see what it’s like to work with your company.
If you want to see success with your case study, you must publish it where your audience will find it. It will help you garner more engagement and get more people interested in working with your business.
4 tips for creating a successful case study
Now that you know how to create a case study, it’s time to start writing it!
As you compose your study, keep these four tips for success in mind:
1. Tell the story from start to finish
A big part of writing a case study is learning how to write a business case study that tells a story. You want to tell a story that highlights your customer’s journey from start to finish.
When writing a case study, begin with the basics. Establish who the client is and what they do. You’ll also want to highlight their goals and what they aim to achieve with their products or services.
Next, talk about their problem. Discuss how the client ended up on a journey to look for your business. You’ll want to ask how they found your company.
Once you explain their problems, move into how they found you and how you helped solve their problem. This part is a great place to pull direct quotes from your client that highlight how you helped their business.
Finally, wrap up by discussing where that client and their business is now and how they’ve improved.
It’s essential to be thorough and not skip on the details. With all your case studies, you’ll want to tell your client’s story from start to finish to help your audience visualize themselves in those clients’ shoes.
2. Make information easy to read and understand
If you want to know how to write a case study successfully, focus on creating a case study that’s easy for your audience to understand. Your case study should be easy for your readers to read, skim, or watch.
For written case studies, focus on breaking information into smaller paragraphs.
Your paragraphs should be no more than three sentences. If you have paragraphs with six or seven sentences, you’re going to overwhelm your audience and deter them from reading your case study.
With video case studies, speak clearly and ensure that, if it’s an interview, your client speaks clearly as well. You can also add your subtitles and closed captions to ensure that people can follow the conversation if they can’t keep up with what people say in the video.
If you’re using an infographic, make sure it flows in the order of how you want people to see the information. You can use objects, like arrows, to guide people. Additionally, you’ll want to choose colors that make your infographic easy to look at and make text difficult to read.
When you create your business case study, focus on making it easy for your audience to digest. It will help your case study see more success.
3. Try different formats to see what engages your audience
A common misconception about case studies is that they must be written. While many people tend to write their case studies, you aren’t limited to that format. Videos and infographics are both great options for presenting case studies.
If you want to know how to write a successful case study, try different formats. Some formats will work better for your audience than others. Additionally, some case studies will fit better with certain formats than others.
Let’s go back to the example of being a company that sells software for organizing team tasks.
Your wedding planner client happily agrees to do a case study and share their experience.
The wedding planner is enthusiastic and loves your product. With someone who has a personality like that, it may be best to use video for your case study. That way, you can capture her enthusiasm and excitement.
Additionally, weddings are visual events. You can use clips of people setting up for a wedding to help capture the essence of the client’s work.
Remember, you don’t need to stay in one format! Choose your format based on your client, their business, and the type of content your audience engages with the most.
4. Prepare questions before your interview
Questions are a critical component in creating a case study. You want to ensure that you’re asking the right questions to allow clients to elaborate and provide you with enough information about your project.
If you want to build a solid case study structure, prepare questions before your interview. You don’t want to go into a case study interview without knowing what you want to ask. It will make you appear unprepared and won’t help you get valuable information.
Before interviewing your client, prepare at least four to five questions and one follow-up question for each.
Let’s use the wedding planner client as an example.
Here is a sample of the questions and follow-up questions to ask the client:
- What does your business do?
- What are some of the challenges of running your business?
- What problems led you to find a software like ours?
- How did those problems impact your company's ability to operate?
- How did you find our business?
- How did we stand out from the competition?
- How did our software help solve your problem?
- What improvements did you notice with your team and business?
As you can see, these questions are thorough and allow the client to expand on their answers. The follow-up questions let you get more useful information, too, so you have plenty to work with for your case study.
By writing questions ahead of time, you’ll help create a case study structure that has tons of information for your audience and helps guide them through the client’s journey.
Start publishing compelling case studies today
When you know how to write a case study, you can start creating content that provides your audience with valuable insight into your company. The right case study structure will help you create a compelling story about your client’s journey.
If you don’t have the time to create compelling case studies, WebFX is here to help.
We have a team of over 200 experts that will help you compose case studies that engage your audience and get them interested in your business. From video marketing to copywriting to infographic design services, we have everything you need to compose your perfect case study.
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