Reviews are important. Studies show that 93% of customers will look at reviews before they buy this year. So even when it comes to the smallest purchases, you want to make sure your customers are saying great things about your products.
B2C companies tend to use reviews to give other potential customers more confidence in their product.
But when you’re selling to other businesses — sometimes asking them to invest a lot of money in your service — it takes more than a few sentences to convince them that your solution is the right one for them.
Before they buy, businesses want to see results. That’s why you need case studies. Case studies help you show that you have proven experience in helping other companies achieve their goals, so they’re confident you can help them reach theirs.
What is a case study?
Case studies are articles that show how you’ve helped a certain client or customer overcome a challenge and achieve success. They usually consist of at least 4 parts:
- The challenge
- The criteria
- The solution
- The outcome
Case studies show potential clients that you really can do what you say you do. They’re different from other types of marketing because they’re perceived as being more independent and factual than, for example, your website copy.
How is a case study different from a testimonial or a review?
Reviews and testimonials are typically short-form snippets left by individual customers.
The key difference is that testimonials are almost always positive, as they’re specifically requested by a business from a customer they know they have a good relationship with. Reviews can be more mixed, as they’re usually collected and displayed by an independent site such as TrustPilot.
Case studies, meanwhile, show the impact of your product or service on another business. They’re usually much longer than reviews, often running into hundreds or even thousands of words.
That’s because businesses are often looking for solutions to more complex challenges. In a case study, you can outline the challenges in detail, so other potential clients can relate to their struggles and see how your solution solved them. Potential clients also like to see facts and figures in a case study, such as the amount of money saved by switching to your solution.
The impact of case studies on sales
You can have the best sales patter in the universe, but your opinion is worth a whole lot less to your potential client than that of your past clients. That’s why you need case studies.
Case studies give your product value in the real world of business. They have the power to nudge a potential client towards your product when they’re making their final purchasing decision.
Used effectively, case studies can:
- Generate more leads
- Close more deals
- Give clients confidence in your product
What makes a great case study?
Case studies can sometimes be a little dry. After all, unless you’re selling the next iPhone or a flying car, your product may not be the most obviously exciting thing to ever hit the market.
But a great case study finds the human element that makes your product exciting. Is it going to save staff time, so they can get home earlier and see their families? Does it boost productivity, meaning managers can give their staff well-earned bonuses at the end of the year? A great case study finds the story within the stats, and presents it as a compelling narrative.
Other signs of a good case study include actual results — the more specific the better — as well as images and videos that illustrate the story.
3 examples of great case studies
These examples will give you an idea of what a good case study looks like. Not every business is going to win contracts with the likes of Cadbury, but the point of a case study isn’t to impress with your previous clients — it’s to show how committed and proficient you are in providing your solution.
Why it’s a great case study:
- It’s built around a story
- It’s clear how the product benefitted the client
- It includes tangible results
- It ends with inspiration and takeaways for other businesses
Why it’s a great case study:
- It outlines the challenge, the solution, and the outcome from the start
- It identifies human elements within a relatively dry subject matter
- It highlights standout quotes from the client
- It ends with hope for the future
Why it’s a great case study:
- It uses simple language and short sentences
- It includes illustrative examples of a highly visual product
- It explains why, as well as what
- It ends with a link to the client’s website
How to get case studies from your clients
Because case studies are relatively long, and often use explicit data around ROI and savings from clients, it can feel like an imposition to request them.
But if you’ve done a great job for your client, there’s no reason for them to turn you down — so the best thing to do is ping them a no-obligation email asking if they’d be interested in providing the information you need to craft a great case study.
If (when!) they agree, be ready with a list of questions you can send straight over to them. It’s a good idea to do this while it’s still fresh in their mind, so they can whizz the answers straight back over to you before they get stuck into the next thing. If you’re not sure which questions you should ask, download this free list of 10 case study questions for your clients.
Written case studies vs. video case studies
Thanks to the rise of platforms like TikTok, video is a massive format in 2022. It can work well for case studies, as it means your potential clients can hear your current clients’ experiences straight from the horse’s mouth. It also adds expression, which can’t be underestimated when you want to highlight the human element.
But there’s still a lot to be said for written case studies. You can optimise text for SEO, helping draw more people to your website. It’s also much cheaper to create a written case study than a video case study. A video with low production value may do more harm than good when it comes to marketing your business. Written case studies are much cheaper to create and showcase, as well as being more accessible in the workplace.
For best results, get the best of both worlds. Find a video production company or freelancer to help you make a professional-looking case study video. Then use this content to build an SEO-friendly webpage that highlights the challenge, solution and outcome for your client.
Download a case study template
Get your first case study off to a flying start with these free downloads.
- 10 case study questions to inspire your client to give you a great case study
- Free template for writing up your case study
If you don’t have time to create your own case studies, a copywriter can help. Get in touch to find out more about how I create case studies for my clients.