How to Format Marketing Case Studies

What is a Case Study?

Case studies are stories about your best customers, how they used your product or service and the results that they experienced. Essentially, a case study is a sales and marketing tool that builds trust, lends credibility, and is an important part of your business strategy.

We’ve written a series of posts that dig into this critical type of content.

This article will help you understand the format for your marketing case studies. If you’re going to spend the resources on creating a case study, you want it to be impactful.

Key Elements of an Effective Written Marketing Case Study

Title: The title of your case study is just as important as the rest of the content. In some ways, it’s more important because the title may encourage someone to continue to read, or it may make them decide they’re not interested in reading more.

Having the company name and data or qualitative information about their results that will resonate with your ICP (Ideal Customer Persona) should be included.

Examples of Case Study Titles: 

Executive Summary: Provide a high-level summary at the start of the case study so that 1) people can decide if it’s worth their time to read and 2) if they stop reading after the summary, they still learned about the benefits of your product. 

This summary can also be pulled out and used within emails, social posts, and sales decks.

These next elements of the case study may be distinct with headings as part of a traditional case study format. Some companies will benefit from creating a narrative case study where these elements are included, but woven together into a story. Consider your ICP and what will resonate most with them.

Background: Provide an introduction to the client or company, the challenge(s) they faced, and why they chose your product/service. Remember that case studies are meant to be a win-win (for you and your client) so be sure to frame your client and their experience in a positive light. This will also encourage them to share the case study with others.

The Challenge: After the introduction, provide a more detailed look at the problem the client was facing. You may want to include the ways they tried to solve the problem before working with you. For example, if they were working manually before using your tool or worked with a competitor, this may be something to highlight.

The Solution: Now is the time to discuss how your product/service provided a solution. Focus on unique selling points of your product or service and how these helped your client. Quotes should be used throughout, but this is a place to showcase your client’s words.

Results: This is often what your prospective clients care about. Share quantifiable and qualifiable benefits and results that this client or company experienced. If, during your interview, your client doesn’t have this data available, be sure to follow up before writing. And, as you write, if you realize another result could be highlighted, send an email to get the data you’d like. Make this data easy to read and find within the case study (You may want to use a visual or text box for data and results).

Testimonials: At Audience Ops, we prefer to weave quotes throughout a case study, but you’ll see some that have testimonial-type quotes in their own section. These are useful on their own, so even when you create a more narrative case study, have a small collection of the impactful quotes your sales and marketing teams can use.

Visuals: Visuals capture attention and are highly resharable. Ask your design team to create branded images, charts, and graphs that supplement the story. Don’t have a design team? Canva is your new best friend.

Conclusion/Call to Action (CTA): Remember, case studies are about building trust and credibility and ideally, they also help move prospective clients closer to working with you. At the conclusion of the case study, encourage readers to take a next step with you. This isn’t always a sales call or trial– it may be getting their email address to send the case study so they can share it with their team (if you tend to work with clients who have a number of stakeholders). Or, it may be a link for a self-paced demo. Keep track of the CTA(s) you try, A/B testing if possible.

Case Study Formatting Tips for Maximum Impact

In addition to including the information mentioned above, you also want to consider how you format your case study and present that information. 

  1. Keep it concise: Even with a narrative case study, less is more. You want the reader to be engaged and learn about your client and their experience, but not have to sort through fluff. Think about recipe posts on the internet. We all know that there’s a whole story before you get to what you’re looking for. Don’t let your case studies be like those recipe posts.
  2. Use subheadings: Subheadings make your case study scannable. Not only because your readers are busy, but they might not need to read the whole case study and subheadings make this easier. One reader may not care about the problem this client faced, they just want to see the data. Someone else may want to really understand the company the case study is about because they want to make sure you understand their business. Make it easy for people to find what they need.
  3. Incorporate visuals: As mentioned, visuals are great to include in case study write ups. They break up text, make data digestible, and may be elements that the initial reader shares with their decision makers and stakeholders.
  4. Highlight key takeaways: Make the strongest information standout. Use pull quotes, sidebars, or boxes to point to the information that you really want to share. Think about data or stats that highlight the impact of your company for this client and quotes that share how you’ve helped. 
  5. Maintain brand consistency: The overall look of your case study is important to: on your site and as stand-alone documents. Use your company’s brand colors, fonts, and style guidelines so that these case studies feel like they came from you. You may also want to maintain consistency across case studies so that they feel like separate chapters from the same book. 

Key Elements of an Effective Video Marketing Case Study

A large part of creating a successful video case study is a well-done interview. If you’re not familiar with creating a video case study, check out our article, Video Case Studies for Marketing.

Title Sequence: The title alone can hook a viewer (or not). Like a written case study, identifying the company or brand within the case study and their most-compelling data or change from using your product or service should be included. 

Since this is a video and people may be watching with the sound off, be sure to leave a title sequence up for long enough for people to read. 

Client Introduction: Case study videos can be produced in a creative way, which means you can choose to introduce the client at the start or you can have them share a compelling part of their story before we learn who this person is. Whichever way you start the video, you have the option to have the person introduce themselves and/or use text on the video with name, title and company. 

The Challenge: Near the start of the video, we want to hear from the speaker about the challenge they were facing that led them to your solution. Like a written case study, you’re not only setting the stage to highlight your company, but in a video, you’re also making a human connection between the viewer and your participant. Hearing your current client’s words and challenges helps build trust at the start of your video case study.

If Possible: Visually Represent the Problem: Depending on the footage you have and design capabilities of your team, having visuals to break up the interview clips is helpful. Near the start of the video, can you share stats, data, a chart, or a video clip to further highlight the struggles of your client? These additions help to build more credibility and earn the viewers trust.

The Solution: After setting the stage, usually within the first 30-seconds, shift to having your participant discuss how your service or product has been the solution. What changes have they seen, the benefits they’ve gained, the time they’ve saved, etc. This is another place to use visuals: either another data slide that shows the change, visual demonstrations of your product or service in action, or summary text as an overlay on the video. 

Call to Action: Remember that this is a sales and marketing tool, and consider what a logical next step is. Is it booking a demo? Visiting a quiz to personalize their experience? Read more about the solution? Check out your website? Have a final slide that includes your call to action. You may want to use a QR code or link to make it easy for someone to access after they’ve watched the case study.  

B-roll Footage: Your case study video can be any length but we recommend no more than 2-3 minutes. Regardless of how long your video is, you’ll want to break up the interview with b-roll footage: images and video that help to show the story and give additional context. This can be stats or data slides mentioned above or static images and video. Stock video and images can be appropriate but don’t go overboard. 

You can get creative by including reviews, screen captures of your tool, user generated content, or any other related footage. Consider what the participant is sharing about and add in related b-roll. Your participant may even be able to provide some of the b-roll like screenshots of their dashboard (it’s okay to blur some things out), photos from their business, or photos of your product in their store.

Final Thoughts About Formatting Your Case Study

Case studies have the potential to build trust, increase interest in your product or service and ideally lead to sales and increased revenue. It’s critical that you format your case studies well so that readers and viewers actually consume and understand the content you share.

By creating both written and video case studies, you diversify your outreach efforts and can create more deliverables to use for sales and marketing. Now that you know how to best format your case studies, use this information to help you create a solid case study for your business.

If your team needs support or doesn’t have the internal resources to produce case studies in house, Audience Ops is here to partner with you. We’d love to chat about your case study needs– schedule a time to talk by filling out this form:

Case Study Chat

We're excited you'd like to learn more about our done-for-you case studies. Please fill out your info and we'll be in touch.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Before you go...

Need some help with your content?