The proof is in the pudding. The world wasn’t convinced by cronuts until a whole bunch of people tried them and raved about them. Likewise, potential customers aren’t going to be convinced by what you’re offering unless they see that it’s been tried and raved about too. But this is about more than testimonials.
To be really convincing, you need to lay out your recipe for success. This is what case study writing is designed to do. It’s a specialist skill and one we have in our arsenal of copywriting services.
What is a case study?
A case study details how you’ve solved a customer’s problem with your superlative product or service.
It showcases your expertise, experience, and ethos. And yes, it includes quotes from your customer, which can also double up as great testimonials. However, unlike a testimonial, which is usually short, simple and effusive, a case study is a much longer tale, filled with data, targets set, and goals achieved.
It’s a convincing piece of content writing that builds authority, credibility and trust. Needless to say, this can do wonders for your sales, especially when 88% of consumers say trust is more important now, in these changing times, than ever before.
In fact, case studies come up trumps as the most effective marketing tactic for increasing sales in SaaS, which is why SaaS companies have, on average, 28 case studies up their sleeves to wow prospective customers.
But it isn’t just the SaaS industry that’s leveraging the power of case studies.
73% of the most successful content marketers spanning businesses of all sizes and sectors, from healthcare and finance to manufacturing and technology, use case studies as part of their marketing strategy.
Now you know why you need case studies, it’s time to get your head around case study writing.
This is a type of long-form, data-heavy writing. You need to pay close attention to the details as well as the overall arc of your case study. If you don’t have the time or resources to devote to this, then you need to find yourself a case study copywriter.
Your how-to guide to case study writing
What do case study copywriters and Stephen King have in common? They both know how to tell a good story. And that’s the trick with case study writing.
You’ve got to introduce your reader to a customer or business that, on the face of it, they don’t care about. By telling a story, you can engage your reader, make them relate to your case study and importantly, make them see how you are best placed to provide them with a solution to their problem as you’ve done it so well before.
This is easier said than done, and as with any story, you need to make a plan first. Here are six steps to get you started:
1) Pick your target audience
Readers of The Tiger Who Came to Tea aren’t the same as readers of War and Peace. Any good writer and that includes case study copywriters, needs to know who they are writing for.
Think about which of your buyer personas (those imagined perfect customers) you want to target with your case study. This will help you hone in on the key pain points your case study should address.
Ultimately, you will need a case study (or several) that appeals to each of your buyer personas. But for starters, pick the one that best represents the market sector where you most need to build trust and grow your sales.
2) Pick your case study customer
Now you know who you’re writing for, you need to select a happy customer to be the star of your case study.
This past customer needs to be someone who your target reader, described by your buyer persona, would easily relate to. Your reader should be able to put themselves in your customer’s proverbial shoes as they dive into your case study.
Your aim is to make your reader think, “If that worked for them, it could work for me too”.
Inciting that kind of confidence in your service or product is much easier when your reader can connect to the person or business you’re featuring, which is why it’s so crucial to make the right choice.
Of course, you will be limited by the number of happy customers you have who are willing to let you share their stories. But you’ll never get any to agree if you don’t ask.
Make a habit of reaching out to your satisfied customers and asking if you can interview them for a case study. If they need some encouragement, highlight the exposure they’ll get from being featured on your website as an innovator in their field (after all, they chose your innovative solution to solve their problem).
If you can, consider additional incentives: financial, for example, or work exchanges. For instance, as a copywriting agency, we’ll often offer our own clients one of our copywriting or SEO content writing services in exchange for their valuable time.
Case study interviews take time, usually around 1–2 hours, and you need to ask the right questions if you want to get the right answers. This is where experience makes a difference. As part of our case study writing service, we can craft tailored interview questions and conduct the interview for you, ensuring your case study is both comprehensive and compelling.
While powerful case studies often have all the details of your customer on display, including their name, logo and all that juicy data, if your customer isn’t willing to share all of this, find out what they would be comfortable sharing.
You can still create great case studies with certain revealing details removed or anonymised. If your customer doesn’t want their case study on your website for all to see, they may be happy for you to use it when dealing directly with prospective new clients. So make sure you explore all options when convincing customers to be featured as case studies.
In any case, you need to get the explicit permission of your customer and make sure they know exactly how their interview and data will be used in your case study. They will also need to sign off on the final version.
3) Pick your formats, plural
Case studies are best known as long-form pieces of writing. This format is tried and tested, and works like a charm. But don’t limit yourself to just the written word.
Consider repurposing existing case studies in different formats. Think infographics, videos and audio content. This can help increase the reach of your case studies by catering to the different media preferences of your audience.
You can also turn the different evolutions of your case study into pithy social media posts too.
4) Clearly structure your case study
Your case study needs to follow a clear and satisfying path for your reader to stick with it. Make sure you include:
Keep it succinct but strong. Clearly state what your customer achieved with your help.
Condense your entire story into a few sentences and highlight the success you helped your customer achieve. Bullet points with key metrics work well here to really drive home the difference you made.
Provide a short backstory of your customer to help set the scene for your case study.
Go into the details of the challenges your customer was facing before you came along. Include data to demonstrate the problem, explain why it was so important for your customer to solve it and lay out the goals they wanted to achieve.
You can even go into the other products your customer tried which, of course, ultimately failed, on their journey to finding your product. This can help demonstrate the specific criteria that your customer needed to be met, which will ultimately tie into how your solution ticked those boxes and stands out from your competitors.
Discuss how your product or service helped resolve your customer’s problem and dig into the details. This is where you can really shine and showcase yourself as an industry leader with your innovation and insight.
Provide proof of how your product or service helped your customer using easy-to-digest data, as well as customer quotes. This may include both the immediate impact as well as the long-lasting benefits.
Talk about what lies ahead for your customer, especially if you have an ongoing role to play. Mention how your product or service has shaped their future plans.
Include a compelling CTA at the end of your case study to nudge interested readers to get in touch with you.
And that’s a wrap. It’s also a lot. So don’t forget to break up your text with some great visuals as well as design accents to highlight quotes and key points.
5) Balance hard and soft data
Case studies need to be convincing, which could lead you to believe that you need to focus exclusively on the data. But it isn’t just numbers that drive our decisions.
In fact, as much as we try to let our rational brains take the driver’s seat, our emotions are powerful drivers of decisions.
So don’t just fill your case study with hard data (all those measurable metrics). Balance your case study with soft data too (those subjective opinions and feelings of individuals). Use quotes that speak to those tricky-to-measure outcomes, such as a boost in morale, mood or motivation.
As for the numbers themselves, make them work harder. Don’t just integrate them into your body copy with no hope of ever being discovered by a skim reader. Use them in your subheadings, or make them pop in graphic format – this is an excellent way to break up your case study with some visuals, too.
6) Make sure your case studies get seen
There is no getting away from SEO in the digital world. If you’re posting case studies to your website, you want them to be found, so you need SEO to get them ranking on Google’s search result pages. Luckily, we offer SEO content writing as well as copy – so if you’re looking for optimisation for your case studies too, we’ve got you covered.
The same goes if you’re repurposing your case studies as video content on YouTube.
Speaking of getting your case studies seen, don’t just hide them away on your website. Pop a link to them on your homepage and/or in your hero image.
If there are certain case studies that you can’t feature on your website, create a branded portfolio document tailored to different sectors that you can send to prospective clients.
Make your case
Now you know what’s involved in case study writing, do you have the time for it? No? Then make your case to your customers the easy way – with the help of our experienced case study copywriters.
From conducting customer interviews to writing your compelling case studies, we’ll take care of it all. So get in touch today and let’s get started.