Case studies are an essential part of any marketer’s toolkit. They provide evidence to back up the claims you make about your product or service. Since we can all be a bit sceptical at times, we need to give our buyers proof that we are as good as we say. A portfolio of case studies offers that much-needed reassurance.
If case studies are on your marketing to-do list, this template explains the elements I include to ensure the result is a compelling and persuasive piece of content.
1. Your headline
Be sure to include the outcome or key benefits the customer received. Some of the best case study titles I’ve seen are customer quotes describing the benefits in their own words. If you’re working with a business, include their name or industry sector, if relevant.
Think carefully as to what the case study is really about. Is it just about the product or service? Or is it about your great customer service? Or a specific benefit of the product or service? A compelling case study is rarely only about a product or service – think about the story. What will the reader learn from the case study?
Keep your headline short (under 12 words, if possible) and never more than two lines.
e.g. “It’s taken away a stress and a doubt” or “The structured process that doubled a manufacturer’s turnover”.
2. Intro paragraph
After the heading, draw readers in with the context and problem. Briefly explain why the customer needed your services in the first place and paint a picture of the challenge they were facing before they bought your product or service.
The purpose of this is to demonstrate empathy with your buyers. Show you understand the problems, or “away from” feeling, they are facing because you’ve worked through those problems with other clients.
3. Emotional testimonial
After the intro paragraph and problem, you need to show the light at the end of the tunnel. The best way I’ve seen of doing this is to give an emotional quote from the customer explaining the real benefit they got from your product or service.
For example, if I was writing my own case study I’d choose quotes like these: “Ros has saved us time, money and our sanity!” or “I love her systematic approach, it's just what I need to set a clear direction for my business.”
If possible, include a photo of the customer alongside their testimonial.
If you haven’t got an emotional testimonial, make sure your next paragraph highlights the emotional benefit the customer received.
4. The challenge
Expand on the intro paragraph, explaining in detail the customer’s context before they bought your product or service. What were they doing or experiencing? What was the problem? How did they feel about it? Why did they need you or your product? Why were alternatives not an option, or not a preferable option?
If you have one, include a quote from the customer about the ‘before’ and a photo of the context.
5. The solution
What did you or your product do for the customer? What did you supply and how did they use it? What was involved in getting started or set up? How quickly did the customer see results and what were they?
Again, if possible include a quote about the solution and an image of your product in action or you delivering your service.
Where you mention the products or services used, remember to link to their respective pages on your website so people know where to go to buy them.
Include a photo of what you delivered, if possible.
6. The outcome
What was the result of using your product or service? Were there any issues that you resolved for your customer that demonstrate your commitment to customer service? Did you take action that demonstrates your flexibility or depth of expertise?
I like to end a case study with a positive customer quote. Ideally, they would say why they’re glad they chose the product or service in question or why they feel it was the right choice for them.
Here are some examples of ‘outcome’ quotes from my own clients to give you the idea:
7. Call to action
A case study is not a marketing tool unless it has a call to action. So what do you want people to do as a result of reading your case study? Do you want them to…
Read my blog on how to craft a compelling call to action for more tips.
8. If you liked this you might also like…
Sometimes people won’t be ready to follow your call to action. So take a leaf out of Amazon’s book (pun intended) and include suggestions for other case studies, blogs, videos or content that might be relevant to the reader.
This gives your prospect the option to get to know you better first, before they follow your call to action.
I hope you found this template useful in creating your own case studies. If you'd like to get my latest blogs and news by email once a month, please sign up to receive my newsletter.
If you need more structure to your marketing to get the sales results your business needs, get in touch.
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