How to Write a Case Study for Marketing and Sales

How to Write a Case Study for Marketing and Sales

Every business can benefit from having case studies about why their best customers or clients love them. Case studies help show proof of the impact of your business or service and create trust for potential customers or clients.

Start here: If you’re unclear about what a case study for marketing is, check out this article

It’s important to know how to write a case study. Why take the time to create a case study for your business if it’s not done well and won’t move the needle for your company’s sales or marketing? A compelling case study does take energy and resources to create, but we’ll help you understand how to write a case study for marketing and sales.

Before you write your case study:

  1. Get buy in from your team 
  2. Decide on the format for your case study and how you’ll be using it for sales and marketing 
  3. Connect with the person you’ll be interviewing
  4. Create your questions and determine metrics and data you’ll ask about in the case study interview
  5. Schedule and record the conversation

Let’s dig into each of these:

1. Get buy-in from your team before you start a case study

Even if you’re head of marketing and can decide about projects like case studies, it’s a smart idea to get stakeholders on board early. Case studies mean nothing if they don’t get used. 

Talk to your IT team about getting ready for the case study to live on the website if you don’t have a template or dedicated page. Discuss the upcoming case study with sales and find out what assets would be most helpful for their role. Check in with anyone higher up about red tape or approvals that may be needed (especially if you’re in health, government, medical device or similar industry where there are regulations about confidentiality and messaging).

2. Decide on the format for your case study and how you’ll be using it for sales and marketing

Chances are you’re creating a written case study, but what about a video case study? Both will give multiple options for repurposing your case study for sales and marketing efforts. If you know that you’re going to use the video, not only will this mean you want your participant (and their background) to be ready, but you can also focus more on the sound bites, succinct points that make an impact.

It’s helpful to have clarity on the format and use of the case study so that you can be prepared to share this when you reach out to the customer or client that you want to interview.

3. Connect with the person you’ll be interviewing

In addition to internal buy-in, you want to make sure that you’ve got the trust of the person you’re interviewing. Let them know where and how the case study will be used, the formats it will be presented in, and if they have review/veto power. There is little worse than taking the time and money to create a case study to find your participant isn’t happy with the final product.

It can take time to get someone on board, and they may have to get approval from their higher ups, so you may want to put feelers out to a few potential participants.

4. Create your questions and determine metrics and data you’ll ask about in the case study interview

Being prepared for your case study interview is one of the best ways to ensure a solid final product. That means creating questions ahead of time that you can share with the participant. You’ll likely need to do some research within your company, for example, with the team who onboarded them, or their designated support person, unless you know this client’s experience well. 

Consider what parts of their story and experience you’d like your customer to share. Your questions should include identifying any sort of metrics or data you’d like to ask about so that your participant is ready to go and can speak to all of the points you’d like them to. At Audience Ops, we let the participant know that they don’t have to write anything down (though having metrics and data in front of them can help), but that we recommend reviewing and coming up with potential examples or stories they may like to share. 

5. Schedule and record the conversation

Reconnect with the person who said yes to participating and schedule the time of their call. You probably only need 20-30 minutes, but you’ll want to make sure they have the time available and can be in a quiet (and clean) space. Even if you’re doing written and not video, it’s ideal to use a platform like Zoom to record. This way you can pay attention to what the participant is saying and not focus on taking notes. 

When we have these conversations, the Audience Ops team aims to get solid sound bites which can be used as quotes in written or video content. Don’t be afraid to ask your participant to repeat something in a more succinct way to help you get the sound bite you need. We love phrases like “What you said about X and Y was really interesting. Can you summarize that connection in just a sentence or two?” Also, don’t overlook asking them to share their name, company, title, and how long they’ve been a user of your product. Even if you know these things, this makes a great intro or section of a video case study or a social clip.

You may want to consider getting a third-party, like Audience Ops, to conduct your interview (or even write the case study if you need help with this). By bringing in someone outside of your company, your client may be more candid and open in the interview. 

Though case studies are generally focused on the positives of the client experience, there may be elements of their experience or story, like bumps in the process, that they may be more comfortable sharing with someone outside of your organization. These elements of their experience are important to capture and including them in the final case study can actually help build more trust because it shows the reality of someone’s experience.

Additionally, case study interviewees may need to reschedule (about 30-40% of ones we do for clients need to reschedule). When you have a team like Audience Ops managing this process, we take on the follow ups needed to get the call scheduled and recorded. 

Now that you (or an outside party) has had the conversation with your case study participant, how do you write a marketing case study?

How to Write a Marketing Case Study for Your Business

When it comes to preparing a written case study, there are several different ways you can approach it. With that said, your first step should be to consider the target audience for your case study and which formats and aspects of the content will interest them the most. Consider the audience’s goals when they’re looking for a product or service like yours, and how you will address those in the case study. What are the most important points they’d like to understand about the experience of others?

Secondly, think carefully about the specific clients you have and look for those with clear results and learnings that will resonate with your audience. The client that says “we just really love ABC” will be nowhere near as impactful as the client that raves “we love ABC because they helped us to increase our revenue by 50%.”

Written case study structure

Here are some examples of typical case study structures. All will incorporate information gathered during the interview, additional research and direct quotes:

  1. Narrative case study approach. This emphasizes storytelling and aims to engage the reader through the journey of the customer. A typical structure often involves starting with a company overview, the problem they faced, their process in looking for a solution, and the results they got.
  2. General case study approach. A traditional approach tends to be in sections including company, problem, solution, and results. It doesn’t lean as heavily into storytelling as the narrative approach. 
  3. Data-driven case study approach. This approach centers the success metrics. Typically, each paragraph addresses a different success metric.

Written case study content

The content you need in your case study will depend upon your goals and the customer you’re basing it on. In the end, a case study is a promotional asset so it should highlight the key factors you’d like promoted for your business.

Some basic content sections may include:

  1. The client background and company introduction.
  2. The challenges, problems, or opportunities they faced.
  3. Specific goals they had.
  4. Their key needs when looking for a solution to their problem.
  5. How they came to find your product or service.
  6. Their experience of onboarding your product or service.
  7. Any tools or platforms they used.
  8. Results and metrics. Consider quantifiable as well as qualitative outcomes. For example, in the case of onboarding new products or services into a business, people want to know how easy it was to implement, too.
  9. Include authentic quotes and insights from the customer.
  10. End with a strong CTA.

Bonus: Create a Case Study Video

Doing a video case study requires additional prep and approvals, but are a great addition to your written case study. Learn more about video case studies.

How to Outsource Your Case Study Effectively

We know that going through all of these steps can be a lot, so we’re here to help. When Audience Ops partners with a company to write case studies, we get you involved to learn about your client, their background, and the metrics we should cover. We’ll also make sure we’re clear on the format of your case study and the ways you envision using it. Then, we’ll take it from there, keeping you looped in along the way as we work toward your final deliverables. 

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