By Andrew Angus on February 28, 2013

Case studies are a marketing staple. Businesses use them to show how their product or service has been implemented successfully by customers. Instead of simply talking about a product, case studies allow businesses to show how their product can be used.

We’ve also had a lot of success with them here at Switch Video. This case study about Inbenta, for example, allows us to demonstrate how an explainer video helped Inbenta increase conversion rates by 20%. It really helps our customers to envision how videos can help to explain what they do and increase conversions in the process.

At this point, you may be wondering, “What makes case studies so successful, and how can I use them to generate more leads?” Let’s talk about that now.

#1: Case Studies Tell a Story

The first thing case studies do is tell a story. They illustrate how your product or service can be used. Without them, you’re stuck with explaining what you do and why it’s beneficial to customers. But there are only so many ways you can describe yourself.

A case study brings your product to life. It’s a picture that’s worth a thousand words—providing an illustration of what you do, not just an explanation. Stories are also known to be one of the best ways to activate people’s brains and to get them to remember what you’re saying (more about that here). If you find yourself at a loss for getting the explanation of what you do to stick, try telling a story with a case study.

#2: Case Studies Focus on the Customer

Case studies also focus on the customer’s perspective. Instead of talking more about yourself, you focus on how a customer used your product. You get to describe the process and the results of implementing your product from the customer’s perspective.

A lot of businesses make the mistake of talking about themselves too much, especially on their websites. Case studies are a great way to take the attention off of yourself and to focus on the experience of one of your customers. Future prospects will react well to this because they’ll want to get the same results as the case study example.

#3: Case Studies Demonstrate Success

Not only do case studies focus on customers, but they also demonstrate how your product has been used successfully. Prospective customers care more about seeing how your product has been implemented than they care about hearing you talk about what you can potentially do.

In this way, case studies demonstrate success. They prove that you’re able to accomplish what you say you can do, based on real results and real stories, not just theories. Case studies give your company more credibility. They show that people are using your product and having success doing so.

#4: Case Studies Leverage Your Customers’ Brands

Case studies also let you leverage the brand power of your customers. By showing the businesses that you’ve worked with, whether it’s Facebook, HP, IBM, Inbenta, or someone else, you get to show the companies that you’ve worked with that are willing to back you up and talk about what you do.

When it comes to marketing, customers care a lot more about what other people have to say about you than what you have to say about yourself. This rings true with case studies.

#5: Case Studies Are Inexpensive

Compared to explainer videos, case studies are inexpensive. You simply have to take the time it takes to write and design a good case study. This can take between 10 to 20 hours and can cost between $500 to $1500, depending on the writer you use and what needs to be included.

Explainer videos are awesome and are the best way we’ve found to explain what you do online, but as has been mentioned, they can end up being expensive. They’re worth the investment, but not everyone can afford them and not everyone can afford more than one.

This is where case studies come in handy. You can convey a lot of useful information by sharing the success of one of your customers and illustrating how your product or service can be used. Explainer videos are still number one, but case studies are a super helpful number two.

#6: You’ll Learn Lot

A lesser known benefit of case studies is that they teach you a lot about your product and your customers. You’ll learn things about your product that you’ve never known before by getting a better idea about how your actual customers are reacting to what you do. Case studies end up being one part promotional material and two parts market research.

By learning more about your product and customers, you can improve your marketing communication because you’ll be more in touch with your product and more in tune with your customers. Instead of trying to sell based on what you think is important, you’ll learn to sell based on what customers appreciate and how they’re using what you sell.

Different Types of Case Studies

Now that you know the benefits of case studies, let’s talk about the different types of case studies you can consider:

  1. Blog posts : These are the easiest to publish if you already have a blog set up. Just write up the case study as a post, and then hit publish. If you’re short on time, this is the easiest way to create and share a case study.
  2. PDFs : The next way you can create a case study is as a PDF. This the most popular way to do them. The benefit of PDFs is that you can create something that looks very professional and presents the case study in an easy-to-read format that includes callouts and special informational sections. PDFs can also be e-mailed to prospective customers for easier viewing.
  3. Infographics : These may take a little bit more time to plan and design than your average case study, but they’ll present information in a visually appealing way that’s likely to be shared via social networks. Infographics are also great ways to convey information in an easy-to-understand format.
  4. Videos : Last but not least, videos are another possibility. Instead of writing up a case study, you can create a video that interviews customers and shows how they’ve used your product. This ends up being a rich, interactive experience for prospective clients.


Case Study Examples

Here are some case study examples from around the web to give you an idea of what you can produce:

  1. The Economist.com, Drupal [Blog Post]
  2. Turner Broadcasting, Drupal [Blog Post]
  3. The State Department’s Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund, SalesForce.com [PDF]
  4. Starbucks, KISSmetrics [Infographic]
  5. Ben & Jerry’s, Facebook [Video]
  6. Burberry, Salesforce.com [Video]


Extra Reading

To learn more about how to create successful case studies, check out these awesome posts from around the web:

  1. 8 Tips for Creating a Great Case Study, KISSmetrics
  2. The Ultimate Guide to Creating Compelling Case Studies, Hubspot
  3. How to Write a Great Case Study, Marketing Scoop

 

 

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