How to write a compelling case study for your business

Case studies are one of the most powerful B2B marketing and sales tools. But majority of sales and marketing people don’t pay attention to it.

We are great at write-your-specific-benefit! We are way ahead of our write-your-main-competitor when it comes to Y! Do this sentences sound familiar to you? I’m sure they do! Those are very common sentences in a sales meeting when trying to convince leads and prospects to go with your solution.

But at the end of the day, this is cold, hard proof. You need way more than your own words. And go beyond simple testimonials by showing real-life examples of how you were able to satisfy your customer’s needs and help them accomplish their goals.

You need to start creating compelling case studies. Case studies are a great way to tell the world how valuable your products or services are. With great case studies, you will be able to highlight your successes in a way that will make your ideal potential customer become your customer.

To help you arm your prospects with the information they can trust, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to create effective case studies for your business, as well as free case study template for creating your own.

At Pile, we’ve created a case study template that will help you save time and effort when creating your case studies.

6 essential case study format elements

  1. A lead quote or testimonial. Use a quip from an interviewed source–your client or customer–that is repeated within the body of the text.
  2. A results summary. This includes three or four benefit or advantage statements—high-level bullets that explain the meat of the case. These should showcase how your company helped the firm in the case study. These points should appeal to the prospects actual pain points.
  3. A challenge or problem summary that explains the problem to the reader (a prospect), using a point of view that empathizes with the reader’s perception of the problem.
  4. A compelling, interesting title – the answer to a need you KNOW the reader has. Even better–make sure this has a keyword in it and you can tweet it with a relevant hashtag.
  5. “About Us” section. This is one paragraph about your company, including a few notable facts and contact information.
  6. A call to action. Each case study should encourage the reader to respond to something specific. Many times, these are in the left or right margin of the case study or at the bottom.”

How to Write a remarkable case study

Find the right case study candidate

Is it better to invite a new customer happy with their decision to invest in your solution?

Or instead, should you focus on a legacy customer whose loyalty might help push hesitant leads over the fence to becoming customers? To start, here are a few things to look for in potential candidates.

In order to tell the right story in your case study, you need to ask the right questions. Ask open-ended questions to help reveal other insights that can add more depth to your case study and paint a more vivid picture of success.

Here are a few examples to point you in the right direction:

  • What are/were your goals?
  • What are the challenges you experienced prior to purchasing our product/service
  • Why did you choose us over other similar products or services?
  • What were the implementation and decision-making process like
  • How has the product or service provided a solution? How did you benefit?

Ask for Specific Data that Highlights the Impact

Have you ever read case studies where a business states that they “doubled traffic” for the customer in their case study and wondered if that meant they went from 100 to 200 visits or 10,000 to 20,000 visits? Certain ways of displaying numbers can have an ambiguous meaning. You will want your case study to be as clear as day. So instead of just saying you doubled their traffic, show them real numbers and (if possible) real proof.

At Pile, we’ve created a case study template that will help you save time and effort when creating your case studies.

Tell a story

Like every good story, there’s a villain and a protagonist along with a lesson to be learned.

As Drew McLellan wrote to create a compelling story with this 4 tips:

  1. Identify the bad guy: explain the problem
  2. Bring in the hero: introduce your company/product
  3. Tell of the battle: describe how the challenge was overcome
  4. Give it a happy ending: sum it up

A common and effective structure to tell the story properly is focusing on this seven sections:

  1. Title: Keep it short. Focus on highlighting the most compelling accomplishment.
  2. Executive Summary: A 2-4 sentence summary of the entire story. You’ll want to follow it with 2-3 bullet points that display metrics showcasing success.
  3. About: An introduction to the person or company, which can be pulled from a LinkedIn profile or website.
  4. Challenges and business problems: A 2-3 paragraph description of the customer’s challenges, prior to using your product or service. This section should also include the goals that the customer set out to achieve.
  5. How You Helped: A 2-3 paragraph section that describes how your product or service provided a solution to their problem.
  6. Results: A 2-3 paragraph testimonial that proves how your product or service specifically impacted the person or company and helped achieve goals. Include numbers to quantify your contributions.
  7. Supporting Visuals or Quotes: Pick one or two powerful quotes that you would feature at the bottom of the sections above, as well as a visual that supports the story you are telling.

Include actionable insights

Your contact will provide you with great data and a before and after glimpse which paints a nice picture. Unfortunately, that picture isn’t always completely clear for someone on the outside looking in.

It may not be immediately evident how the reader could achieve the same results, or what they could do with your product or solution to tackle their specific challenge.

To help provide a clearer path to the solution, provide actionable insights within your case study. Those insights create a more engaging and valuable piece of content that prospective customers can learn from.

It doesn’t have to be lengthy; just enough to educate and drive action in the right direction.

Jose Bautista co-founder of Pile

Written by:
Jose Bautista is a designer and co-founder of Pile. When he’s not building Pile, he’s enjoying TV shows, play with his family and enjoying the sunny Barcelona. He’s @_btsta on Twitter.