We hopefully all know by now that B2B case studies are an incredibly useful marketing tool.
If you’re someone that needs a little more proof, Content Marketing Institute reports that 71% of B2B content marketers take advantage of case studies, using them as a content tool for driving engagement and sales. However, many businesses struggle with figuring out where to start when starting an in-depth case study with a particular client.
What encompasses a compelling case study? What’s the list of absolute must-haves to include?
Don’t fret if it’s your first time around the case study shop (or even if you’re looking for some fresh ways to improve your current case studies) – we’ve created a B2B case study checklist to ensure that your case study drives value in more ways than one.
The Official B2B Case Study Checklist
Quick, before you keep scrolling — be sure to check out and download the official case study checklist infographic here!
1. Consider the industries you want to grow into more.
A very common question that many prospects ask is “does this solution work for my industry?”
If you provide services to multiple unrelated industries, creating a case study for each one could help answer this question. Leading with the most challenging industries, niches that you want to grow within, or specific companies to sell to first is a great place to begin. Focusing on featuring customers that saw the most exceptional results and can impress the largest part of your target audience, too.
2. Reach out to customers that have expressed gratitude.
Getting your customers on board with a case study can be difficult in some cases, whether it be due to communication issues or simply not having enough time to devote to it. Identifying those that have already expressed how grateful they are to have your business services is far more likely to lead to a great case study.
Look out on social media channels, previous support conversations, emails, reviews, and other testimonials on third-party sites to see who is loving your services the most. Then, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask them if they’d be open to working with you on a case study – if they already love what you do, they’ll probably be willing to move forward.
3. Gather the right information.
Getting actual, verifiable permission from your client or customer is a step that many forget, along with gathering direct responses. We always recommend putting together a survey that they can fill out with in-depth responses on their own time, complete with a space to upload an image, logo, and personal quote!
Some prompts to include are:
1. Please describe your business or organization
2. Please describe why you, your business or organization need [service]
3. Please describe your primary use for [service]
4. Please describe your most successful use of [service], its purpose and how it’s helped you or your organization
5. What is the feature that helped / that you enjoyed the most? Why?
6. Please describe your primary use for [service]
7. Please describe why you chose to work with [company] over other vendors.
8. Please describe an instance where [services] provided value to you, your business, or your customers
The right questions will identify the customer’s problem, your solution, their process of deciding to work with you, their experience working with you, and the results that occurred. Use a survey to collect first-hand information FIRST, then follow up with a phone call to clarify any key points.
4. Lay out your case study structure.
Depending on the goal of the case study, you’ll want to consider different layouts. The tried-and-true structure consists of “challenge, solution, results.” This may at first seem daunting, but all you need to do is examine the data you have gathered and decided into which of the three categories it belongs; once this step is complete, writing the rest of the case study should be a breeze.
Be sure to include visuals, graphs, data visualizations, etc., and use storytelling methods to draw in readers. For tips on how to use these effectively and why they are imperative read here.
5. Focus on value, not just features.
Defining exactly what it is that you can provide to a company when compared to your competitors is one of the best methods for getting new business. What do you do better than anyone else?
Take a trip down your features and services list to discover which ones are unique to your organization. Then, be sure to make this a central focus of your case study to best highlight the benefits and value you provide.
6. Make the customer feel like your one and only.
Your service or solution helped your featured customer; otherwise, you wouldn’t have a great case study to market at all. Putting all your energy into this perspective can only leave your customer feeling like you’re using them, however.
When you’re working with your customer on building up your case study, make sure that they feel like a total superstar! It’s all about their story of overcoming a challenge and coming out the other side in a much better place – crafting this story is far more likely to convert prospective new clients as well as help your current customer stay happy.
7. Proofread, edit, and repeat.
Before publishing and distributing at will, you should always give your customer the chance to read through your collaborative case study and provide an opportunity for them to ask for edits or veto certain graphics. This last-chance review ensures that everyone is satisfied with the outcome well before the publish date, which both minimizes issues and allows them to prepare for sharing the case study with their networks as well.
8. Set up a showcasing and syndication plan.
Your own company’s online presence is the best place to start when showcasing your finalized and approved case study; use your homepage, blog, monthly newsletter, social channels, and targeted landing pages to help promote your content first.
No matter how you tackle the task, you’ll definitely want to publish or promote your case study in as many strategic venues as possible, including full-fledged syndication sites if it makes sense.
Building a robust, data-based, value-driven B2B case study can be quite the task, but breaking every step up in an actionable way will help you streamline your efforts. Following our ultimate case study checklist is a great way to help you move forward along the path of B2B content marketing, foster relationships with your customers, and gain new prospects, all while promoting your business’ best attributes. What’s better than that?
Want to get your own prize-winning case study? Get in touch with our team to learn more.