A case study is the story of where your client was before they found you, how they used your services, and how it improved their business because of it.
They aren’t just a bunch of logos and metrics—they’re real stories that can help you find more leads, and get you across the line. In today’s world, 90% of us are looking at online reviews and forums before making a purchasing decision. And case studies act as cold, hard proof as to why your business deserves theirs.
Anticipate this and serve up case studies to turn your prospect’s uncertainty into confidence.
In this post, we’ll share some of the best practises when it comes to writing and designing case studies.
Why case studies are just really great stories
It’s no secret that marketers use storytelling in their content to persuade prospects. This is because neurologically speaking, information that’s structured in the form of a narrative creates complex physiological reactions—our minds are hard-wired to create stories to navigate through life.
Stories are a promising strategy to use in your case studies, because they allow readers to empathize with the problem, remember your services, and connect to your brand.
So, how can we use storytelling in our own case studies? We’ll give you a breakdown of each section below, but here are the key elements to building a narrative in your case study:
Element 1: Illustrate a relatable protagonist
Before you start your case study interview, select your story based on a common or shared problem a client or customer experienced, rather than a niche one. Highlighting your client’s industry, and even including a photo of them, will help readers relate to your story.
Element 2: Define the emotional motivators
It’s easy to get stuck into metrics, but highlighting the higher level goals you achieved will better connect with your reader.
Element 3: Find the core problems
Get to the core of your case study’s pain points and struggles. These emotional triggers will engage readers, especially if these problems are relatable.
How to structure your case studies
Here at Qwilr, we’ve seen thousands of our customers create case studies as part of their sales strategy to promote their services and products. Case studies that have gone on to win millions of dollars of work. So when it comes to your case study structure, here’s what we recommend:
Start with a strong introduction
This is your chance to really catch your reader’s attention. Research shows we have around seven seconds to make our content stick, so work this section wisely.
Items to include:
1. A summary title
Keep your title focused on your most compelling accomplishment. Sticking to storytelling fundamentals, use this section to highlight a problem or challenge your solved.
2. Client introduction
Depending on how recognizable your client is, you’ll want to include their name and logo in the introduction. More notable brands tend to lend credibility to your own, and in some cases, brand recognition can get your client across to the dotted line.
That’s not to say smaller companies aren’t as powerful—but rather than include their company name in your introduction, you can include their industry and mention them in the body of your case study.
3. A beautiful background image
You’ve got seven seconds remember? Include a beautiful image that’s related to your client. While this might be easy if you’ve worked with a tourism, food, or fashion client (and harder if you’re working with a medical, technology, or infrastructure client), using photos with people in them is an easy fallback, as we often find these more relatable compared to still structure.
Build trust with a testimonial
Reinforce confidence in your reader, and drop in a strong testimonial from your reader. If you have permission, it’s also a good idea to include their name and photo to humanize your story.
Frame the challenge
Here’s your chance to really pull on the heart strings of your reader. Emotionally engage them by highlighting the core challenge your subject experienced. In this section, it’s important to take a step back and deconstruct the problem they faced.
Both of the sentences below state the same problem, but which has a better chance of engaging your reader?
a. “Over the last year, our website traffic declined by 30%.”
b. “Over the last year, our hotel experienced the most vacancy it’s ever seen. It was pretty demoralizing to look around the empty lobby.”
Problem b is far more powerful and relatable, even to a client outside the hospitality and tourism industry. A direct quote from your client will give validity to the challenge at hand and help readers relate.
Showcase your results
Outline your solution
Use this section to explore your methodology, key metrics, and overall strategy. It’s important to include an examination on how you reached the solution, and any iterations or tweaks you made along the way. This shows your ability to create tailor-made solutions, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
Items to include:
– What the strategy is
– Why you chose this strategy
– How the strategy will be implemented
– A client quote about the strategy
– Key metrics in dot points
Highlight your results
Here’s your time to shine. Just like you focused on the core problem at the start, it’s important to highlight your core results. You can include the metrics you moved, but without context, these might not truly wow your reader. Instead, address the wider success your client achieved and give your story a powerful well-rounded conclusion.
Items to include:
– A paragraph on the success achieved
– A client quote about your results
– A before and after of your key metrics in dot points
– Graphs to illustrate these metrics
Give them a next step
If you have more than one client case study to show off, include them in this section. Curate these to the relevant industry you’re already discussing to increase your audience’s chances of reading on. Don’t forget to include a strong call-to-action, inviting your reader to get in touch with your team.
Items to include:
– The key industry of clients you’re working with
– Links to other case studies
– Logos of recognizable brands
Over to you
Investing in creating a case study is evergreen content that will work for your business over time. Shared by both your sales and marketing teams, they’ll help you impress more prospects, and demonstrate your ability to deliver on exactly what you’ve promised. Ready to share your story? Apply industry best practices and use our case study template to really impress prospects.
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