The Power of Case Studies in Marketing Your Business

By Will Swayne, Head of Strategy at Marketing Results and EO Brisbane member.

With market noise greater than ever, I’ve found that prospects who aren’t ready to buy tend to be resistant to even well-crafted marketing messages. “Sell benefits, not features” is good advice, but benefit-rich copy can paradoxically deter prospects who haven’t reached the decision stage yet. They’re just not ready for hard-hitting benefits; they want valuable content instead.

Back in 2005, we published our first client case study, and I quickly realized the power of case studies as a versatile and effective marketing strategy. Why do they work so well?  Here are three reasons:

  1. Case studies show, they don’t tell. Telling you I can get you more qualified leads is one thing.  Showing you how a similar company to yours got 145% more leads with 24% lower marketing costs is another.
  2. Prospects are typically curious to understand how others have achieved the results they desire. They will eagerly devour a well-constructed case study.
  3. Case studies are also great for closing sales. For many years, I’ve asked prospects why they chose to work with us, and the most common response seems to be, “I was impressed by your case studies section,” or “I saw you helped someone in my industry, so I figured you could help us, too.”

How to Structure a Case Study for Results

Here’s the case study structure we’ve adopted which has proven effective:

  1. Start with a major headline that summarizes the key result achieved: e.g. “Investment Property Strategist Triples Leads in Six Months.” This gets the prospect excited about reading on.
  2. Then introduce the “before scenario.” I’ve found it’s not helpful to give the reader too many details about the client’s history. Instead, provide an insight into the “trigger” that led to them seeking your assistance (e.g. “The client noticed smaller competitors starting to appear ahead of them on Google.”) And talk about the negative effects of the “before state” (e.g. “New customer acquisition that had previously been growing by 10% every quarter had flat-lined for the last 12 months.”)
  3. Now you can introduce the solution, where you explain what you did to achieve the outcomes. I like to list different services or solutions in the form of bullet points, in addition to including significant details, facts and figures that add richness to the story.
    I’ve found, whenever possible, using images, screenshots or other proof elements proves very effective. Also, by emphasizing anything you did differently from the standard approach, you highlight your point-of-difference benefits.
  4. After the solution come results, the crux of any good case study. I like to go with a number of punchy bullet points, populated with specific numbers (g. “Lead volume up 75%… New customer volume from online sources up 145%… 1,540 more organic search engine visitors per month.”
  5. You might consider including a testimonial from the client. What was their reaction to your work? A strong testimonial adds texture and credibility to the data in your core case study.
  6. Finally, end with a call to action. This can be relatively low key – for example, “Contact us to explore how you can enjoy similar breakthrough results.”

How to Promote Your Case Study

A case study that never gets read won’t be much help, so here are some of our favorite promotional methods:

  1. Optimize each case study for the search engines. A good start is using a <title> tag on your case study pages in the format: “<INDUSTRY> <SERVICE> case study”. For example, “Accountant online marketing case study” or “Car sales lead generation case study.” This will help to rank you well for anyone searching for case studies about your industry.
  2. Send case studies to your email subscribers. These emails achieve high engagement, both as broadcasts and “drip emails” within an auto-responder sequence.
  3. Create a print booklet of case studies to send to prospects and clients via snail mail, or distribute publications at trade shows.
  4. Case studies make great social media updates and can be recycled every few months using different headlines.

Hopefully by putting these tips into action, you’ll see positive results and increased growth within your company.

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