How Should You Use Case Studies as Part of Your Marketing Strategy?

There are more than 8,000 martech solutions in the market. And hundreds of solutions are added to the landscape every year, according to a 2020 research from chiefmartec.com. So how do your clients know which solutions fit their requirements when they are bombarded with new product information every minute? For a digital marketing agency like yours, the answer lies in client case studies.

What is case study?

Case studies can be one of the most powerful B2B marketing tools as they provide an in-depth explanation about how your customers achieved success with your products and services. A well-written case study explains the challenges a customer was facing, how your solution was applied, and what successful and measurable outcomes were achieved. 

In fact, 98 percent of B2B buyers think it’s important to have case studies on vendor websites and 54 percent use them to make a buying decision.

Pros and Cons of Case Studies

Though case studies are great for generating leads, they do come with their own set of challenges. Here are the pros and cons of case studies that you may want to consider before making them an integral part of your content marketing strategy:

Pros:

  1. Proof of performance: It’s important to demonstrate the return on investment that a customer can expect to achieve by investing in your technology. Case studies are among one of the most compelling ways to do so. 
  2. Builds trust: Opinions from people outside of an organization, especially a user, will always carry more weight than any other marketing pitch. Case studies show the story, in the voice of the actual user, rather than relying on a marketer to tell it. 
  3. Works as a selling tool: Sales teams can never have enough resources to help them sell. Case studies are among the best you can provide. 
  4. Drives conversions: Case studies are bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) content and typically among the last consumed content assets prior to a purchase decision. A great and convincing case study is often the tipping point.

Cons: 

  1. Intensive, not expansive: A case study is an investigation into the success of a single case, and doesn’t accurately reflect the broader value or ROI that might be achieved by other customers. 
  2. Difficult to acquire: Often, customers are hesitant to share insights about their projects since they fear it could be giving away too much information to competitors. At times, the project could be confidential with non-disclosure terms. In any case, users need a lot of convincing to understand that a case study could be beneficial. 
  3. Short-term benefits: Unlike other evergreen marketing tactics, a case study is a snapshot at a particular time and place. Keeping case studies timely and current means it needs to be updated continuously. It makes an already difficult job much harder.

How to create great case studies 

1. Recruit your most successful customers and strongest advocates

Case studies are best if it features a user that is both a brand advocate as well as a top performer. Your finance department and customer support teams can help you find these customers. 

2. Use a template

A basic case study template might look something like this:

Anatomy of a Case Study

You will want to work with the user for developing the sections on the challenge, how your products helped them and the end result. You may also want to find out about the highlights -- the exact ROI. Once you have had this conversation, you can fill out the rest, including the key findings, key deliverables, CTAs, and complete the executive summary.

3. Connect with the client

Generally, the best way to connect with these partners is to get a warm introduction via email then book a phone interview. This is where you pitch the case study to them and ask if they would be willing to share some of their information (revenue growth, info on basket size, etc). Like we discussed earlier, many users could be hesitant to participate in the creation of a case study due to the sensitivity of the information they are required to share. 

Here are some tactics to help you convince your client and secure the necessary information:

 

  • Mutual benefit: Tell them how it can be mutually beneficial. A customer might agree if the success story gives them an opportunity to talk about their business/project, and the value it brings for their users. Therefore, propose something that promotes their brand too. You may also consider giving them permission to use the case study for their own promotional activities. Alternatively, you could negotiate the creation of two separate cases — one for your purposes, and one for the customer to use for their own marketing. 
  • Enticement: This is a heavily debated topic, but it often helps if you can sweeten the deal a bit for the customer by offering them advanced access to new tools, discounts on products/services, or other incentives. This is a grey area and is seen as unethical by many. If you do consider offering incentives, it is absolutely necessary that you ensure that the results and findings are not influenced by the incentivization.

4. Send it  for design

Whether you outsource your design work or have an internal team, it’s always important to ensure that your case studies and guides get the design love that they deserve. With proper design, your message will resonate that much stronger with prospects and convey a much higher degree of professionalism. 

Here are some pro-tips for levelling up your case design:

 

  • Put your key takeaway in the title or subtitle: In most cases, there will be a clear takeaway. This should be placed in the title of the case study so that prospects know exactly what to expect from it.  
  • Use direct quotes: It’s far too easy to falsify case studies, so adding quotes is like layering on an extra layer of trust for your readers. In fact, 70 percent of people will trust a recommendation even if it’s from someone they don’t know.

 

Here’s a Vendasta example that features a key takeaway in the subtitle and a quote, right on the title page:

Amazing Stories Case Study Cover Example

 

  • Draw on emotional triggers: Emotive, persuasive, and action-based language will encourage prospects to take action beyond the pages of your PDF. Common term examples include the following: results that speak volumes, drive results, delight customers, etc. Insert these trigger words into headings to drive the most impact. 
  • Frame your key results: The most important findings and most compelling results should be highlighted so that readers that are skimming can easily find this information. Here’s an example from Venngage:
Case Study image

5. Publish It

Publishing and marketing strategy for case studies looks quite similar to those tactics deployed on guides and thought leadership content

Here are a couple of publishing considerations:

 

  • Make it a gated asset: You should entice site viewers with key takeaways from your cases with blogs or social media posts, but never make them publicly available. Making them available to all eliminates the lead generation potential of the piece.  
  • Create a custom landing page: Make sure that this landing page aligns with the design and message of your case study. 
  • Internal linking: Case studies and case study content can and should be linked to other parts of your website, beyond their landing page. Consider linking case studies on your homepage, on product pages, on testimonial pages, and more.

6. Promote it

Case studies have immense value and marketability. To get the most out of your work, there are a few promotional tactics that you should deploy:

 

  • Leverage the PDF study as an asset that your sales reps can present to prospects to help propel them through the buyer’s journey and closer to that decision stage. 
  • Promote it on your website by using pull quotes from the customer on your core website. Rotating testimonial features on your homepage can be a great place to subtly promote a powerful case study while also providing social proof to site viewers. 
  • Create a blog network around your case study. Leverage the key value propositions to create a handful of keyword-targeted blogs that have your case study as the primary CTA. 
  • Create videos with the customer to complement the case study and add to your social media marketing strategy. 
  • Deploy an organic social media strategy by posting about the case study frequently over a number of months following its publication. Bonus: do some hashtag research and try to expand your organic reach by targeting hashtags that are highly trafficked by your target audience.
  • Use case studies in email drip-and-nurture campaigns. Since they are the most impactful between the consideration and decision stages of the buyer’s journey, position these emails strategically. 
  • Set it up for paid promotion on social media and PPC. Adding case study links to landing pages for Google Ads is a great way to drive conversions that aren’t directly sales focused. Paid social media is also a great channel to expand your reach, but don’t use it for new audiences. Lookalike audiences are likely your best bet with case content.

Conclusion

Case studies are extremely powerful if you are looking to build trust and credibility for your agency. When done right, they become an invaluable asset for lead generation and help in shortening the sales cycle. However, the benefits of case studies are for a short period of time, so keep in mind you need to create them continuously.

Discover how you can leverage case studies and other marketing tools into your inbound marketing strategy by downloading The Fundamental Guide to Lead Generation today.

 

About the Author

Filled to the brim with talent, Vendasta's Marketing Team is always looking for ways to create thought-provoking content, eye-catching media and data reports that can help you sell digital solutions to local businesses.

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