17 May How to write a basic Case Study
Writing a good basic Case Study is not as hard as you think. And Case Studies are powerful pieces of communication and marketing collateral. Being able to write your own Case Studies is worth your while. While it might not be Pulitzer Prize-worthy, if you follow the recipe here you’ll have something serviceable within an hour or two.
Why write Case Studies?
First: prospective customers love them! Even on B2B purchases, there’s still a human being making the buying decision. And human beings love stories. You, like any person, are drawn to them. You love hearing about someone like you who has a problem like yours who then works through a solution that gives them the sort of results you want.
A well-pitched Case Study establishes the relevance you have to your prospects like no other piece of written collateral.
If a story’s beginning, middle and end are obvious, that means it’s structure matches how the human brain processes and remembers information. A properly written Case Study does just that.
What market psychographics suit Case Studies?
Case Studies are especially relevant for the customer types that do the most research. These are:
- Infrequent shoppers: Pulled into the market by external circumstances, they want to feel back in control.
- Dissatisfied shoppers: Burned by a competitor of yours, they want validation and reasons to believe you.
- Comparison shoppers: They enjoy comparing the specs and offerings of a set of providers.
- Advisory shoppers: They’re curious about your sector generally, and the right info will trigger a purchase.
- Newcomer shoppers: People who are totally new to your sector; wary/impulsive, they’re getting their bearings.
However, if you’re in a sector characterised by low-engagement, commodified, casual or emergency purchases, written Case Studies are not relevant for you. Feel free to stop reading now, or, if you stick with us, you’ll find out something shocking about the Case Study you’re preparing to write …
It’s not about you!
Yes, you are not the star of your Case Studies. The customer you’re Studying is! This is because the purpose of a Case Study is to illustrate what an exemplar client needed and then what you helped them get (and how).
Good Case Studies are written with this angle because your readers are always asking ‘how does this apply to me?’. Detailed explanations of your internal processes are not relevant to that concern, while a customer journey is precisely what they want.
What are the effects of a good Case Study?
Essentially a testimonial on steroids and wearing a business suit, a good written Case Study establishes that:
- You are trustworthy
- You have a track record
- You are relevant.
The right Case Study proves that you – the solutions provider – have reliable witnesses to delivering success. It sets expectations. It gives the reader a “scenario of success” to look forward to.
A secondary effect of a Case Study is they are useful as business documentation and in staff training. For many small businesses, Case Studies do double duty as the only unified records of how things actually work. Yes, your charts, stats, statements and year-end reports cover some of this, but they do it at the level of data analysis. Case Studies, however, put the data into the
context of “this is how it went down”.
You could say that if the data captures the quantitative, the Case Study tracks the qualitative.
Are Case Studies good for SEO?
Yes! Both the Google ranking algorithm and your website visitor pool love high-quality information. Case Studies usually do well as an SEO asset. However, they are also quite specific – it’s just one Case, after all.
So, to showcase your whole offering – and thus capture as many SEO keywords in natural language as possible – you might need a Case Study for each aspect of what you do. Remember, case studies are a slow burn. But they burn long.
Case Studies have the following effects when posted on your site or blog:
- Immediate traffic impact: Pretty low
- Ongoing traffic impact: Quite high – so long as it stays relevant
- Cost/difficulty to write and illustrate: Medium to high (depending on length, complexity and detail)
- Research requirement: Medium to high
- How do I use a Case Study?
As a lengthy, high-quality piece of written material that gives a comprehensive picture of your offer and way of working, a Case Study has a lot of applications, either at full-length or cut into bite-size pieces:
- Post it on your website
- Printed sales collateral
- A page of your brochure
- Linked to your testimonials
- Repurposed content on social
- Basis for videos
- Email marketingTraining materials.
A key point to realise is that Case Studies are informational. They are for context, explanation, detail and illustration. Case Studies are not a place to put direct sales messages or promotional offers.
After all, a good Case Study can stay relevant for as long as the product and client featured are themselves current. That can be years and years of use out of one piece of content.
How long should my Case Study be?
We have seen Case Studies as short as 100 words and others the length of books. For online use, 500 to 1500 words is good. If you haven’t done much writing since high school and that sounds like a lot of words, remember that people tend to speak about 100 words a minute.
So, instead of a 700-word chunk of text, think of it as you explaining the customer journey for 7 minutes verbally. It’s not really that long to speak.
Now, the more involved a project is and the more interesting things that happened for your client, the longer you can go. Just remember, the Case Study is largely a story about the client: what they wanted, what they got and how their lives were better afterwards. Your place is being the means by which they bridged the gaps between those stages.
If you follow the survey, it might seem like you end up with a lot of information to wrangle. However, the structure below tells you what to do with it all.
You can get the info to fill in the survey in person, over the phone and even via email – you just need to get as many of the answers as you can.
Basic Case Studies wrapped up
So, you’ve just read about the what, why and how of a solid Case Study – a versatile and powerful part of your marketing collateral. If you’re ready to start writing, then click here for our basic Case Study template or here for the easy Case Study survey.
Don’t worry, they are just links to Google Docs. Click now – the templates really do work. At SASA, we use them all the time.