How and Why to Write a Case Study

You’ve probably spent at least a minute wondering if it would be worth your time to add case studies to your website, if you haven’t published a few already.

When prospects and investors come to your site, rather than closely reading your product page, they probably want to see what your work looks like in action.

Case studies more directly answer questions about who you work with and what kind of results you get than other types of content. While a well-rounded content marketing program likely includes some of your customers’ stories on your blog, the best way to handle this proactively is to publish case studies of your best work.

Here’s what makes a strong case study, how to write one, and insight into why case studies are valuable for your startup.

The Elements of a Strong Case Study

Great case studies are succinct, punchy, and grounded in facts. A word to the wise: leave the salesy language and jargon out of the mix and keep your story simple.

The goal is to tell the story of one success, framed around…

  • A challenge.
  • A solution.
  • Results.

Done well, this narrative will be bolstered by…

  • A compelling headline.
  • Relevant statistics.
  • At least one bulleted list.
  • Engaging visual elements (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: This Contently case study summarizes results in easy-to-read boxes.

In addition, the best case studies are typically under 500 words. This ensures they’re easy to quickly scan and absorb.

They should also include at least one quote from a relevant stakeholder on the client side that speaks directly to your success (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: This Addigy case study prominently features a customer quote.

How to Write a Strong Case Study

A strong case study provides a detailed examination of a particular project or client success. To get started, you’ll need a lot of information about that relationship, which likely means that you’ll need to get primary source information. This may mean…

  • Holding an interview with that client.
  • Using an existing audio file from a past interview.
  • Talking to the point person on your team who worked on that account.

Then, write an outline in which you identify the elements of this narrative in chronological order:

  1. The situation before your work began
  2. The challenge at hand
  3. The roadblocks that came up along the way and how you got around them
  4. The solution to the problem
  5. The results – again, quantitative data is especially helpful here.

Then, connect the dots in writing. Incorporating the elements of a strong case study from above, write the case study and look for opportunities to demonstrate your success with relevant visuals, like graphs, charts, or illustrations (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: This Propllr case study visually highlights key media placements the client got.

Depending on how you plan to distribute and promote your case study, consider the value of adding a targeted, visual CTA (Figure 4) to ensure engaged readers have a clear next step to take, should they want to start or continue a conversation with your team.

Figure 4: This Blueadz case study ends with a targeted and highly visual CTA.

How Great Case Studies Can Support Lead Gen

Case studies can help with lead gen by telling a story that prospective customers can identify with: the framework gives readers an easy formula to read through and plug their own goals into.

They illustrate for clients and potential clients what results they can expect from your company or product – and therefore why what you’re selling is worth their investment.

They’re designed to showcase the best work you’ve done. If you feature clients with lead generation in mind, your sales team will likely find your case studies to be useful in cultivating leads.

There are three other benefits of writing case studies not to overlook:

  1. Build credibility. When customers are willing to be featured in your work, it’s proof you’re doing something right.
  2. An excuse to boost your clients. They’ll appreciate the chance to be featured on your website, and the free PR can help strengthen your relationship.
  3. Earn organic traffic from people searching relevant terms. If you’re looking to land more clients in a specific vertical or industry, publishing relevant case studies that are keyword optimized will help ensure you turn up when those targets type a relevant query into Google.

If you don’t have time or bandwidth to hold interviews and create case studies internally, you can always commission outside help from a ghostwriter who knows your brand and voice well.

Looking for Inspiration? 4 Examples of Case Studies We Love

If you’re not sure what you want your case studies to look like or which data points might be relevant to your customers, start by looking at the way companies and brands you admire tell their customer stories – and how they promote those stories.

You might want to dedicate a section of your top bar to Customer Success Stories like KnowledgeHound (see Figure 5), or you could publish your case studies as gated PDFs to ensure your sales team has the information they need to follow up with prospects.

Figure 5: KnowledgeHound links to case studies from the top menu to show their importance.

Or borrow Kin’s customer-forward strategy and include as many direct testimonials as possible. If you prefer less of a testimonial approach, you can always aim for a balance of narrative and product-focused storytelling like Azumo’s.

Whatever tone and design you land on, your program will benefit from telling the stories of happy customers and your team’s success.

If you’d like help, contact our team of content marketers to hear more about how Propllr can support your content needs.