Building the Case for Case Studies

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll be well-versed in best practice advice for digital marketing success.

I’ve learnt some great things from this community, lessons which have helped drive targeted traffic to both my site and those of my clients, and tips that have helped ensure the content we produce works harder in terms of SEO.

I’m a firm believer that creating valuable blog posts, white papers and how-to guides – packed with actionable advice and backed-up with evidence – is the best way to attract the right crowd, showcasing your expertise and positioning yourself as an industry leader. But how do you go about converting readers into customers?

From my experience, the best way to actually win business online is to have a good range of case studies on your site – detailing your process, telling the story of how you work, and revealing the successes you’ve had with your clients.

A two-line testimonial is all well and good, but a thorough account of how you solved a particular problem creates a much more glowing endorsement of your services, increasing the likelihood of potential customers picking up the phone.

Making space for case studies is the second step in my five-part process for content marketing success, and here’s why I believe it’s so important…

Play your aces with quality cases


By documenting the journey from initial contact to consultation, through implementation and onto resolution, you’re giving yourself an opportunity to demonstrate exactly how you help clients reach their goals.

In a world where peer-to-peer influence is crucial when making purchasing decisions, having the right case study that highlights your accomplishments could really seal the deal.

Indeed, the 2016 BrightTALK Content Marketing Report, which surveyed 600 B2B marketers, revealed that case studies are considered to be the most effective type of content for lead generation.

The beauty of case studies, and the reason they’re so effective, is that they’re inherently specific, allowing you to drill into the details of overcoming a particular challenge.

Mapping-out your journey to success for a variety of clients, perhaps covering different sectors, gives you an opportunity to illustrate real achievements, using unique insight to prove your ability to flourish, whatever the task may be.

For example, our case study on Telecoms Content Marketing tells a very different story to our case study on white-labelling services – the former showcasing our range of SEO and content creation work, backed-up with data that shows impressive results, the latter discussing how efficiently, and discreetly, we completed client work on behalf of a partner agency.

Both case studies have paid dividends, helping to secure other projects with similar clients. Writing captivating web copy can go a long way to promoting your services, but by showing detailed proof that what you do actually works, you’re breeding confidence and making the buyer’s journey a much more compelling one.

Get on the case!


I’m sure that most businesses appreciate the value a series of good case studies can bring, but I’m continually surprised by how infrequently they’re produced.

It seems to be common practice to publish two or three case studies, and leave it at that, not ever thinking to update them with recent progress (where long-term clients are concerned), or to write new case studies for more recently acquired clients.

Failing to do this means you really are missing out, because if your catalogue of case studies are sat idly collecting digital dust, they’re not going to do a great job of selling you in the best possible light.

From experience, the major stumbling block that seems to prevent the regular production of case studies is a lack of time and, perhaps, not wanting to pester clients for their input.

Naturally, diverting attention away from day-to-day operations – the things that earn you money – and focusing on getting a case study together can be a little daunting, but the whole process needn’t take very long at all.

I keep things very simple, sticking to a formula of three questions when drafting each one, and find that clients can provide their answers over a quick phone call or short email. You already know the story, you just need to publish it and tell the world.

Problem, solution, result


Problem

Firstly, you want to identify why the client enlisted your services. What was the problem they faced? Perhaps they weren’t ranking on page one for their target key phrases, so needed their site’s visibility improved.

Maybe their pay-per-click campaign was generating lots of targeted traffic, but their conversion rates were too low, so they needed to refine their user experience. Whatever the issue, you need to clearly identify it in the introduction.

Solution

Secondly, you want to discuss the solution that you implemented. Perhaps you carried out some onsite optimisation that brought the architecture of their website up-to-scratch. Or maybe you re-worded their landing page copy with clear calls-to-action. Note the actions you took to rectify the issues.

Result

Finally, it’s crucial that you detail the results of your actions. How did their rankings improve? What was their conversion rate before and after your help?

Hopefully, you’ll be able to demonstrate a clear cause-and-effect of your work, and following this simple template ensures a level of clarity that will make for good reading.

Ultimately, the aim of the game is to get your clients to do the talking for you, so I advise sending a brief email outlining these questions – giving them time to think about what they want to say – and then arranging a call at a convenient time to go through each one.

I always record calls (with the client’s consent of course), allowing me to listen back, pause and rewind to ensure I accurately note down direct quotes. Usually, the whole conversation need only last around 15 minutes.

So there you have it, my two cents on why case studies should be central to any content marketing strategy. I’d love to hear your thoughts on best practice for case study production, so please leave a comment if you have any further insight to add.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

Author: Magnus Linklater

Magnus is the Managing Director of Bespoke Digital Marketing, based in the UK. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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