How NOT to Write a Customer Case Study

22nd, 2016
Keyhole - Content Marketing - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder
22nd, 2016
Keyhole - Content Marketing - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder

Case studies are one of the oldest marketing tools in the book…because they work. Customers want to see the impact of your product or service, and written case studies can do just that.

But they must be compelling. Today’s world is saturated with brands, products, services, social channels, etc., and writing a compelling case study that grabs the attention of your ideal customer can be challenging.

Here are some top DO’s and DON’Ts of writing your customer case studies.

DON'T: Only use your words.

DO: Use customer interviews to add authenticity to your case study.

Potential customers don’t want to hear why YOU think your product or service is great. Rather, they want to hear why one of your customers or clients think you’re great.

Before writing your case study, talk to a real-life client or customer. When identifying the right person to interview, think about your ideal customer. The people you highlight in your case studies should match the decision-makers or audience you are trying to reach.

Your goal is to ensure that your ideal customer feels as though you are knowledgeable about their industry, understand their specific needs, and know how to produce targeted results in their industry.

DON'T: Focus on facts + figures only.

DO: Tell a story.

While it’s important to include specific results in your case study, people enjoy reading stories. Strive to create a logical flow and use your customer interviews to build the structure of an actual story: introduce the conflict (what the customer was lacking), identify the protagonist (your business), and wrap it up with the resolution (how your business fulfilled the customers’ needs). Include a bit of emotion, and you’ve got a story that will hopefully compel your reader engage with you even more.

Pro Tip: Follow-up on your case studies (specifically the people you interviewed) a few months later and  update your readers on how your products or services are continuing to benefit the customer or client.

DON'T: Dwell on the negatives.

DO: Focus on the positives.

Above we told you to identify the conflict as part of your storytelling process. While this is true, we highly recommend that you project this part of the case study in a positive light. Don’t dwell on what the customer was doing wrong or what you would have done differently. Instead, introduce the need the customer came to you with and focus on how you were able to fulfill those needs.

Once again, use customer interviews to tell this story. The more positive focus you put on the satisfying previous customers, the more compelling of a story you have to tell.

DON'T: Be vague.

DO: Talk specific strategy + results.

Case studies are your time to show off the tangible results you’ve driven for clients or customers. While telling your story, be sure to include specifics on the “how” of your strategy and weave in real numbers that indicate growth. Be specific! For example, instead of saying, “online marketing programs that increased the growth of the brand,” instead say, “social media campaign using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram tactics that increased brand engagement by 25% over a 6-month period.”

DON'T: Make it overwhelmingly long.

DO: Keep in clear, concise + skimmable.

When telling your customer’s story, focus on being clear and concise. Compelling copy ensures that your message is understandable and increases the chances of your case study being read by your ideal customers. Additionally, consider using formatting elements to break up the text and make it easier to read. These could include:  headers, images, bulleted lists, and bold/italicized text.

Most importantly, don’t forget to include a clear, specific call to action at the end of your case study. This should include specific ways in which readers can learn more about your product/service and contact info.

DON'T: Feel confined to using one format.

DO: Make it creative + consistent with your brand.

Once you’ve mastered the art of writing compelling copy, it’s time to decide how you’re going to present your story. We recommend honing in on your audience and going in the direction that most appeals to them. Expand your options with audio, visual or video representation. Consider compiling your information in the form of a podcast, YouTube video, or infographic. The added benefit of these “alternative” formats is that they are easier to share on social, as opposed to sharing longer form PDFs. This way, your case studies can be found in multiple places (not just on your site) and lead to further engagement.

When attracting new customers, case studies continue to be one of the most effective methods. Whether it be in the form of a blog post, video, white paper, or something completely out of the box, always remember to keep your ideal customer in mind and use concise language to tell a compelling story.

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