A lot of people can talk the talk, but only a select few can walk the walk. This saying rings true for not only marketers, but almost all people. This reason (along with many others) makes social proof is a key conversion metric that marketers and agencies cannot overlook. You can say you’re the best all you want, but until you’re able to offer concrete examples of times when you were, indeed, the best, then your audience is going to have a hard time believing you.
Enter the case study
Sometimes people clam up at the thought of writing a case study. They shouldn’t. In reality, a case study is just a detailed story of something your company did for a client or customer. Typically this includes
- some background on the client and their request (usually some sort of conflict or problem they wanted to overcome),
- an explanation of what happened next,
- and some sort of resolution or outcome that explains how you solved the problem/how you improved a desired metric.
Using a combination of text, statistics, images, and testimonials from the client, a case study creates a full picture of the services you offered and successfully convinces your target audience that you could do the same for them.
By pulling together content that is compelling and explicit, a case study becomes a way of showcasing your skills without being too much of a “sell” like most other parts of your website. By being framed as a story, potential customers often find them convincing and engaging. They can see concretely, with numbers and quotes, how you managed to solve a real problem for a client. If they themselves are facing the same problem, the case study is even more convincing.
Pretend you’re your audience
Think about it. If you were hesitant to try a new product or service, you usually ask around to see if anyone you know has tried it. If they have and have good things to say, you’re more confident that you will like the offering, too. Case studies act as this friend, saying to your audience that yes, a real person has tried this thing and have gotten real, desirable results.
In recent years, online “proof” has been proven to act more and more like this helpful friend. According to Bright Local’s 2019 Local Consumer Review Survey, 91% of consumers ages 18 to 34 trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation.
Clearly case studies are a strong piece of social proof and act as a credible convincer. But now the question is: how do you know what stories to tell in a case study? Check out a few tips we’ve compiled about how to tell a convincing story in your next case study.
Pick a past client that aligns with your ideal customer
Your case study is not going to be convincing to everyone, so it’s important to focus on past customers that are most similar to the new customers you’re hoping to attract. If you write to that audience, the potential client will believe that:
- You have experience in their industry
- You know their industry’s needs
- You are comfortable and willing to work in that industry again
By reading about real results you realized for past clients, you are effectively convincing new clients that you could do it again for them.
Use real statistics and numbers
It’s not enough to just say that you’ve “doubled conversions” for a customer, you need to use specific, real numbers. After all, the reader could assume that means you turned 20 into 40 – not 8,000 to 16,000! By avoiding ambiguous language, you potential customer has a better understanding of your true capabilities and can imagine how you could do the same for them. If you can, include real proof that backs up your numbers, like screenshots from Google Analytics, Hubspot reports, etc. Just be sure to include labels on images if you’re writing to a less tech-savvy audience.
Tell your reader a story – the full story
A case study is not supposed to be a sell, chalked full of marketing language and funnel tactics. Instead it should read like a story, allowing the reader to get to know and identify with the customer in the case study. Lay out who the customer is and what they do, talk about what their challenges / goals / needs were, and then talk about how you satisfied those needs and what you delivered. The more you fill your audience in on who you were helping, the more they can see themselves in those same shoes.
Make it easy to read and digest
While this is true of all web copy, make sure your case studies aren’t just walls of text. It can be easy to get wrapped up in “storytelling” and then accidentally end up with a small book. Be sure to break up your text with headers and subheadings, images, lists, and some slight text variation. You can even try different types of case studies depending on the message, such as using a Q&A format asking customers directly about challenges or goals. It’s even an option to create infographics of the key process pain points to provide background and context. No matter how you want to tell your story, just make sure it’s clear and aligned with your audience.
Let your customers do the talking
Make sure all your case studies include at least one quote from the client about the story you’re telling. If they are the ones tooting your horn, then it will instantly gain reputability among other industry peers or potential customers as opposed to if it was just you saying it yourself. And to that end – DON’T SAY IT YOURSELF. If you have a quote from a customer about how you saved them money, don’t mention your “profit saving techniques” in the paragraph right before it. Simply set up the story and let the customer speak for themselves, letting them deliver the biggest “wow” factor instead of you saying it yourself.
Now, that you have a few tips to get started, what are you waiting for? Go out and create a great case study that will showcase your skills and talent while convincingly putting a new potential customer at ease.