What is a case study, and why is it important for your brand to have them?
Updated: May 24
What is a case study, you ask?
Case studies are powerful pieces of content any marketer should have in their toolbag. There’s a reason the old saying goes, “Show, don’t tell.” With only 14 percent of people trusting what advertisers have to say anyway, it’s time to invest in alternative marketing strategies that convert. Enter: case studies. We’re here to show you why you need to consider case studies as part of your sales and marketing strategy.
Instead of relying on advertising efforts to explain why your product is effective — 96 percent of consumers don’t trust ads anyway — show how great your product is through a compelling client story. Prove how your product has helped other businesses by demonstrating the one thing every potential customer wants to see: results.
At J&S Digital, we help transform client relationships into value-focused case study stories. If you need help converting prospects into new customers, check out our case study services, or contact us to get started today.
Before we dive into why they’re important, let’s cover what they are.
What is a case study?
Put simply; case studies are client stories that prove that your product or service really works. While it seems complicated, case studies tend to follow a pretty simple format:
Describes a challenge the client was facing and their goals of partnering with your company
Overviews your product or service and how it was implemented
Outlines the results and benefits the client experienced
In today’s digital world, it’s relatively easy to get all the information you need about a potential product. And, let’s face it, few people look forward to chatting with salespeople. At the end of the day, consumers trust other consumers more than your sales team. That’s why reviews and client testimonials are a huge component of many marketing campaigns.
A well-composed case study can eliminate a potential consumer’s bias, answer their questions, and increase their confidence in buying your product. Case studies can be presented in various forms (Hubspot counted at least 28). Here are the most common case study styles and why they might be right for your needs:
Video-based testimonials: The creme-de-la-creme of case study formats. Instead of writing up a case study, have the client tell the story themselves! Not only does this become a visually engaging way for prospects to experience a client story (65 percent of adults are visual learners, anyway), it feels more powerful coming straight from your client’s mouth. Video case studies are becoming increasingly popular in a remote-focused, pandemic-conscious world.
Blog posts: The easiest -– and the most fun — to publish, mainly if your business is already producing blog content. A blog is an excellent option if you’re short on time and need to get something out there quickly. Simply write up your client story and hit publish! Check out our other blog posts here for more digital marketing tips and insights.
Digital collateral: The most popular case study format that usually comes in the form of a PDF. This easy-to-read format cleanly and concisely tells your client story with the right copy and visuals. Plus, it’s easy to send via email or share on social channels, making it a perfect tool for your sales team.
Infographics: While more time-consuming, infographics are an effective way to present a lot of data fast. Data is boring, but pictures are fun. Transform data-heavy content into a visually appealing infographic that gets the information across in an easily digestible format.
So, now that we’ve covered the basics of what case studies are let's review why they’re a critical component of successful strategies for acquiring new business for your company.
They focus on the consumer
Instead of marketing materials, which focus on how great your company is, case studies let you focus on the customer and tell the story through their lens. By focusing on the customer, you can emphasize your value to them. Prospects will react well to this since they will want to end up in the same place as your case study client. If they can see themselves there, you’ve put yourself in a great position to get the sale.
This is a prime example of social proof — a marketing concept where if other people have purchased and found value in your product, other people are likely to believe this and buy from you too. Social proof comes in various forms, like customer testimonials, product reviews, social endorsements, etc., all of which prove your brand’s value and encourage others to join in their footsteps.
They show real results
Case studies focus on the customer and show you how impactful your business is in the process. At the end of the day, potential customers really only care if you can walk the walk, not just talk the talk. You need to be able to do everything you say you can do.
Don’t just tell your potential customers how great you are; show them real impact and customer satisfaction. Results are paramount, and the more numbers you can offer, the better. Big numbers capture your reader’s attention. If you can keep them engaged, you have a much greater chance of converting the lead.
A little bit of graphic design can go a long way in presenting the data in an impactful way. Graphics, charts, images, and visual elements can help guide consumers through the story and drive the results home. Remember, branding matters. A lot.
They can create a bandwagon effect
You’ve heard of bandwagon fans in sports, where someone starts rooting for a team as soon as they get good. This is known as FOMO (fear of missing out) more colloquially. It turns out the same thing happens in business, and it’s called the bandwagon effect. According to Hubspot, it refers to “people’s propensity to do something primarily because other people -- especially a lot of other people -- are doing it.”
People care what other people think, so use this to your advantage. If you land a big brand, leverage your client’s brand power to augment your own. If you can showcase that you’ve worked with a well-known brand, customers are likely to care a little more if they like, admire, or respect the client at the center of your case study.
Like they always say, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
They’re high value (at a low cost)
Overall, case studies are a pretty low-cost investment with the potential to generate a significant return on investment. While it certainly varies by company, case studies can be assembled in as little as a few days or weeks, depending on the process. At a minimum, all you need is a copywriter and a great story to tell. Considering how much ROI potential case studies hold, they’re worth the investment more often than not.
Having difficulty getting client sign off on a case study?
Don’t let demanding and challenging customers stop you from creating case studies. While having a customer-endorsed case study is ideal, you can pivot and create blinded case studies. With this strategy, you write the case study but include a pseudonym instead of the client’s name. This way, the client is protected, but you can still tell the client’s story and leverage it as part of your marketing efforts. Sometimes, blinded case studies are a win-win.
Case Study Conclusion
If your company offers a valuable good or service that has a measurable impact on your clients’ businesses, you should strongly consider writing up a comprehensive case study to support your sales and marketing efforts. They help your brand build credibility and trust with your prospects without having to convince anybody of anything. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, so address customer concerns or objections by providing them verifiable evidence that your business is capable of solving their unique problems.
Regardless of which industry your business operates in, case studies can be a no-brainer option to increase your conversion rate and build better consumer trust earlier in the relationship. If you need help transforming a client story into a powerful case study, contact us at J&S Digital to get started today.