At Foleon, we’ve come to realize how important it is to get customers to tell our story. People who may not have heard of our brand before will look for cues that tell them whether we’re trustworthy. Positive signals from customers are a powerful form of social proof — one that you can benefit from too.
That being said, case studies are a fabulous way to show potential buyers how others have achieved success with your product. They are a persuasive way to reduce uncertainty among new prospects and demonstrate your value.
According to the 2019 Content Marketing Benchmark of CMI, case studies are the number one converter for the final decision stage of the buyer’s journey.
This post will give you an overview of how to structure your case studies and optimize them for conversions. After reading this article, you’ll know what to include to ensure that you benefit from happy customers’ positive experiences, and you’ll have the tools to create extraordinary case studies that will convince the most scrutinizing of buyers.
Why case studies are so important
A case study demonstrates how your product satisfied other customers and helped them accomplish their goals.
If you’re looking to close more deals, it is essential to incorporate case studies into your marketing mix as they will foster trust, help your prospects overcome any doubts about your product’s value, and increase the chance that they’ll buy from you.
And it’s important to tailor case studies to different audience segments. Address their concerns by creating case studies that are specific to them.
Like with all types of content, if it’s generic and only semi-relevant, it probably won’t inspire action. A targeted case study, on the other hand, shows that you’re aware of the challenges in your prospect’s specific situation, that you’re capable of providing a solution, and you’ve already helped customers overcome similar challenges.
A proven formula for a winning case study
No matter what kind of company you are, or what kind of products or services you sell, a good case study always includes four main components: the challenge, the solution, the result, and the customer’s testimonial.
What challenges was your customer experiencing prior to using your product and how did this affect their business? Include specific quotes that help your reader identify with the situation, feel the pain, and become eager for a solution.
“We have a lot of inspiring content to share, but our previous standard newsletter email format in which we shared the content wasn’t inspiring at all.”
This part of the case study is where the customer describes how your product solved their problem and why they chose you instead of your competitors. What were they doing before they adopted your product? What features were particularly useful to them? What was their onboarding experience like?
The most important part of your case study is the results. Here, you can be as bold as you want, in fact, it’s absolutely fine to show off. What business goals did your customer achieve and what measurable benefits have they seen so far? In this section, numbers are your best friend because they lend authority to the story and provide evidence of real change.
Testimonials serve as reviews of how paying customers benefit from using your product. With more than 60% of consumers reading an online review before making a decision, including real quotes throughout your case study is a great idea. We suggest adding the most valuable part of the testimonial in the introduction to make it more prominent. An excited customer should happily provide you with plenty of quotable material.
Moving beyond the formula: Taking your case study up a notch
A happy customer and a solid writing formula might seem to be adequate components for a successful case study. However, in reality, this is not enough. If you want your case study to resonate and lead to action, you need to add an essential element that’ll transform it into content that delivers actual results for your business.
Wonder what that might be?
It is the story that builds around your case study. A story your prospects will remember more and identify with. If you’re wondering why, the answer is simple: People love stories.
At Foleon, we believe this point is so critical that we’ve even dropped the term “case study” and replaced it with a more accurate name, “success stories.”
From our earliest years, we use stories to communicate, share, and connect. We are more perceptive towards an impressive narrative that resonates at an emotional level. Great stories bring out our hidden wishes, make us feel stronger, and inspire us to overcome obstacles and become the best version of ourselves.
Now, imagine the impact of storytelling on case studies. Going beyond a simple testimonial, a case study presented in the form of an authentic narrative with a beginning, middle and ending, will always be more effective.
Below we gathered some tips on how to ensure that your story ticks all the boxes.
Stories trigger emotion and emotion triggers decision-making
A case study that unravels as a story with a hero (your customer), a challenge (the problem they are trying to solve), a villain (whatever was standing in their way), and a happy ending (growth achieved with your help) will help your prospects feel connected and visualize themselves as the protagonist of their own story. Best part? They will be ready to take the next step.
Get people to picture what you’re writing about
No matter how great your narrative, it’ll be much easier to stick with when it’s visually compelling. Make use of the power of visual content and enable your prospects to remember your story.
Tip: Today, there are many great tools that help you create visually compelling and interactive case studies that look good on any device.
Back it up with data
Like with visuals, mixing your story with data visualizations will make it easier to read and remember. Showcase your customer’s success with digits that demonstrate progress. Back up your customer’s results with real numbers that show how your product changed their business and helped them achieve their goals. This will encourage your prospects to wonder what they could accomplish if they were in your customer’s position.
Help your customers get started
Always add a call to action to the end of your story so that readers can easily take the next step while they’re still excited about what they’ve read. Some examples of what CTA you could use are:
A link to a valuable piece of content such as an e-book or a white paper that will help them continue their journey.
A link to your success stories page where your prospects will find more case studies showcasing your expertise.
A link to your contact page or free trial page to help prospects who are interested in knowing more about your product reach out and/or get started.
Distribute. Share. Repeat.
After all the time and effort you spent in creating your story you don’t want it to get lost in the shuffle. At Foleon, we always want to make sure that our content reaches our audience and is communicated through all relevant channels. Below there are some ideas on how to distribute and share your stories:
Include your stories in your sales communications (activation, nurture, outbound, expansion)
Add them to product brochures and communication assets
Incorporate them in your news updates
Share them via social media
Your prospects are smart and demanding in terms of proof. That’s why investing time in writing case studies is absolutely worth the effort. If done right, it’ll boost your overall marketing effectiveness and skyrocket conversions.
And if you incorporate storytelling, data, and the right imagery, you’ll persuade even the most indecisive prospects.
Want to know more about case studies that convert? Check out our success stories page and see how companies like yours have achieved extraordinary results using Foleon.