How to use case studies as a credible marketing tool
December 23, 2021
Whether you are selling a product, a service or simply promoting your brand, case studies provide real and tangible proof for your target audience.
Treat them as a giant review, giving your audience access to the authentic feedback of a happy customer, willing to share their experience, says Peterborough-based Media Matters, PR and digital marketing specialists.
PR manager Cetti Long said: “The great thing about case study content is that you have pretty much free rein to structure the copy to suit you. Adopt a tone and style that fits with your brand and will be instantly recognisable and easily palatable for your intended audience. The secret is to fully maximise this third-party endorsement but without being overtly ‘selly’ – the positive narrative should do the job for you!
“Use a case study to help highlight a specific service area where you excel; to illustrate where your customer service levels far exceed your competitors. You might want to use this marketing tool to showcase one of your USPs; or shine a light on a member of your team who consistently receives incredible customer feedback. There may be specific issues within your sector where you are renowned for helping customers; or instances where you go above and beyond to support. If you have the facts and figures to back up your story, plus your customer’s agreement to work up any one of these case studies, then do so – they are justifiable reasons to promote yourself through a legitimate third party.
“Not only that, they form an important part of your content strategy as they have multiple uses – on your website, in emails, on social (organic and paid), in print advertising (great for advertorial copy).”
Our top tips for creating the perfect case study:
- Know your audience
Before starting a case study consider your audience. Who do you want to read this article and so where does it need to sit? If it’s primarily for your website, then ensure it’s optimised for search without compromising on the points you want to get across. If it’s going to appear in print – as an advertorial – think carefully about the layout and design. Ensure it fits with the style of the publication and it’s written in an editorial style. Do it well and readers will forget it’s an advert and consume the entire piece!
- Name the customer
We know from experience that businesses are all for drafting case studies but sometimes reluctant to name their customers in them. There may be a valid reason for this (bound by legal or confidentiality clauses). We would highly recommend you do include customer details if you can. It’s the difference between a generic piece of meaningless copy and a compelling factual article that has bags of credibility.
Naming customers also means you can add direct quotes and commentary from them, further illustrating their endorsement.
Before beginning work on a case study, it’s worth checking a customer is happy to participate and willing to be named. Don’t forget the approval process too. It’s crucial the customer is happy and gives full sign-off on the content and usage.
- Use great images
You may have written the most interesting, engaging, insightful case study ever but if your accompanying pictures aren’t up to scratch it will potentially damage the piece. High quality imagery is a must. If you haven’t got any, hire a professional to secure a set of file pictures. You’ll use them time and time again, across a number of your marketing channels, so they’ll be worth the investment.
Ideally, you’ll want to include an image of your customer, to add a further layer of verification and endorsement to your piece. They may send you a poor quality image so think carefully how to approach this – you may suggest booking a photographer for them or you may be happy to take a few shots yourself, as you will know the type of image you need for the case study.
- Consider other formats
Written case studies are all well and good, but if your audience is on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo or TikTok, for instance, you need to be thinking about video or podcast. The same rules apply but remember, it’s all about authenticity. Real customer conversation and no sales pitches.