How To Write A Great Case Study For Your Website
13th July 2015
In previous blog posts we have covered testimonials and reviews – reviews being positive, negative or mixed accounts of a product, and testimonials being positive endorsements for the company as a whole. Now let’s take it one step further than testimonials, and take a look at case studies.
What is a case study?
A case study tells the story of a previous or existing customer, their problem or situation, and how you have helped them. Case studies should show potential customers that you have provided a positive experience to customers in the past, and that you could help other customers in the future in similar ways.
Who should you base a case study on?
Because you want potential customers to realise that you can help them in the same way you have helped your previous customers, it’s a good idea to choose a previous customer who represents your typical clientele. Ideally you will write more than one case study, so there should be a good mix of customers, but you want to make sure that you are appealing to your target audience.
For example, if you are a decorator who usually does work for small retail units, then you should definitely write a case study or two (or three, or four) which give an example of this type of work. But if you have also worked on a much larger business premises and are hoping to pick up more of those kinds of contracts in the future, you may also want to add that into the mix. Showing strong examples of what you do all the time shows that you are comfortable in your field, while giving an example of something a little different proves you can be flexible.
Another approach could be if you have worked for a recognisable or famous name in your field or in your local area. This would be a good choice for a case study because using a familiar name creates a sense of trust among future clients. It’s also great exposure, especially if that well-known figure endorses the work you have done for them.
What should the case study include?
Ideally the case study should cover as much of following as possible:
- Who your customer is and what they do
- Why they approached you in particular
- The problems they needed addressing or the work they needed doing
- Your approach to their problem, and how or why you came up with this particular solution
- Details of the work you did for the customer
- How long the work took to complete, any issues you ran into and how you resolved them
- Details of the finished product / service
- If you successfully worked to any budgets or deadlines
- The outcome of your work – how it has affected your customer or their business, for example an increase in visitors or sales
- A quote from your customer about the work you have done
- Images where applicable
Those are just a few ideas – the specifics of what goes into your case study will depend on the type of company you are and the work you provide, as well as any roadblocks you faced while carrying out the work.
Roadblocks are just as valuable to your case study as the positive aspects, because you can show your ingenuity, problem-solving and can-do attitude when explaining how you overcame them. That’s more impressive than just saying everything went smoothly. Customers will see that you are up for a challenge.
Images of the final product and quotes from the customer add a little extra authenticity to your case study. Images give the customer more of an idea of what you can do for them, and quotes from the customer add another dimension to your writing, making it more trustworthy and credible.
Using real numbers to show the impact your work has had on the customer will also make the case study more authentic and impressive. If your customers have seen an increase in sales since hiring you, provide the figures to show this so that potential customers can see the impact your work can have in real terms.
How long should a case study be?
It’s important to be specific and give plenty of relevant detail, but make sure the case study is only as long as it needs to be – if it’s too long or daunting to read, people are less likely to bother. Formatting can help with this – as with writing anything for the internet, people like to skim, so employing lists, bullet points, headings and paragraphs will help make your writing easier to read. As long as your case study is easy to read and not simply one long paragraph, you can make it as long as it needs to be in order to cover everything you want to say.
Does a case study have to be text?
If you’d like to try something different you could create a video for your case study, with yourself explaining the job, your customer talking about it from their point of view, and a video of the service you provided and the end product where relevant. Or you could do something similar with audio. Alternatively, if you have lots of information and figures that can be translated into images, an infographic might be an appropriate way to display your case study. You could even try a combination of these mediums.
Where should case studies sit on a website?
A designated page with links to all your case studies (similar to a blog post listing page) will make them easy enough to find. They also make great supplements to product or service pages, so you could link to them on appropriate pages, giving customers a wealth of information when they are looking into the specific product or service they are interested in.
The bottom line
Case studies can be a great tool for increasing the rich content on your site, as well as increasing your conversion rates.
While you are writing and reviewing your case studies, be sure to remember why you are writing them and the purposes that they serve, such as:
- Showing your expertise and knowledge in your field
- Showing potential customers why they should come to you
- Alleviating any worries potential customers may have about approaching you
- Demonstrating your positive relationships with your customers
- Proving the validity and success of your work in real terms
If you would like help with any aspect of your online content, please get in touch with us.