How to write a case study like a professional

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If you've ever wondered how to create a professional customer case study then some of the following may be of interest to you. We certainly hope it's useful.

Many seasoned B2B marketers identify the customer case study as the most effective content marketing tactic there is. Like most things though, the quality of the content is hugely important.

We regularly get asked how customer case studies should be constructed and using our experience here's some of the things we suggest:

1. Choose the right customer

  • Pick your happiest customer, the one you have the best relationship with
  • Make sure that what you've done for them has produced measurable results
  • Definitely get their agreement to the case study in advance, including the legal people, corporate communications and PR folks

A good case study takes time, unless all stakeholders are engaged in the process you may be wasting yours.

2. Tell a story

  • Take the reader on a journey but let them know what you'll be telling them at the beginning. It helps the reader determine whether the piece is relevant to them
  • Highlight the benefits delivered
  • Focus on the customer experience, how they found dealing with your company and any other positive experiences
  • Support your story with examples. They validate the story and ensure your credibility
  • Be sure to highlight any positive changes in fortune.

A lack of story can reduce the impact of your case study.

3. Conduct an interview

  • Make sure you interview your client, don't guess at their experience
  • Describe things from the client perspective
  • Try to illicit usable quotes that can be highlighted in the finished piece
  • Get evidence wherever possible because this will add to the credibility of the story you're telling.

 Remember, without an interview there's no real case study.

4. Consider the audience

  • Always keep in mind the person you'd like to be reading your case study. Make sure the language is appropriate for them and it's at a level they'll understand
  • Avoid jargon unless it's likely to resonate with the reader
  • Use images to support the case study where appropriate
  • Make sure it's easy to read, especially digitally and on any device.

Don't forget that it's the readers needs that should be met.

5. Highlight results

  • Results within the case study can give a visual reference throughout the piece. They can catch the eye and encourage a reader to delve deeper and continue to read
  • Point out efficiency gains
  • Detail cost reductions
  • Be liberal with percentages, graphs, trends, numbers and short quotes.

Results give authenticity to the story you're telling.

6. Pay attention to layout

  • Remain true to your brand when producing a case study
  • Make sure that your customers brand does not have the same prominence as yours on the page. It can be more or less but not the same. Decide on your preference and then remain consistent
  • Decide on a hierarchy for font sizes and stick to them
  • Include a summary
  • Have a clear structure and then template it for future work.

A great case study could be ignored if the layout is poor, don't let your hard work go to waste and invest the time to get it right.

7. Remember it's not a direct sales piece

  • Don't finish the case study with your companies sales patter
  • Do give an opportunity for the reader to take some action. It could be to contact you or visit your website or consume a further piece of information.

Always end with an appropriate call-to-action.

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