Case study definition: 10 elements to develop a great structure

    If you are looking for a case study definition, this is the right place to discover more about it. Not only this, but also why it’s so effective when it comes to content marketing strategy. In brief, we can anticipate it’s a useful resource to illustrate and explain how a customer of yours achieved success through a product or service you sell. Simple like this!

    When you pursue an approach of impact, the best way is to show some proof and track record. You may tell a story about a client or bring numbers that led to great results for the business by your own experience. It helps to establish trust and attract more customers.

    So are you curious about it? Let’s take a better look at how case studies work and which elements are needed to develop a great structure. We will also share a few examples of interactive content that can be added to give it a final touch. Enjoy!

    Discover the case study definition and its benefits

    When used as a content marketing strategy, a case study is one of the best ways to show tangible results and persuade potential customers. Because it highlights a path of success through a real story with a problem solved by your company. 

    So, the case study definition is quite simple. The main intention is to create a connection with potential customers and similar problems to be solved. It works almost like a recommendation. Did you know that nowadays 9 in 10 consumers use reviews as an important resource before making a purchase decision?

    And through this kind of content, your marketing and sales teams have all they need to forecast the company as the best solution. When you share a real story of success based on real proof, what you’re offering is valuable and it helps to:

    • enrich your content marketing strategy;
    • support your sales funnel;
    • attract more leads and potential customers;
    • earn authority in your area and boost your credibility;
    • show the expertise of your business;
    • amaze people with interactive content, since it can be multi-purposed as a text, images, videos, webinars, ebooks, white papers, and many other interesting formats.

    According to a survey made by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) with 1,200 decision-makers, case studies influence 43% on the purchase process. It’s valid both for small business and large companies. Another report from Eccolo Media brings this type of content strategy as the third that most impacts a decision.

    For the sales cycle, what matters the most are the stories, not the features or benefits of products or services. That’s why case studies are so powerful to connect, approach and engage during the lead generation process. After all, they provide a problem and a solution, paving the way to success, which can empathize with the reader.

    Talking about this, case studies are commonly used deeper in the sales funnel since it brings proof, track record or testimonial points. However, the resource can also be applied to generate brand awareness and build credibility (usual strategies from the top of the funnel).

    Understand the importance of creating case studies

    We already anticipate it somehow through the numbers of surveys and by the case study definition as well. Anyway, it’s important to highlight how this type of content can help in the process of converting leads into customers. 

    So imagine that you need to solve a problem with time management, for example, and you have to decide between two software. One of them has a case study that shows how a customer saved five hours per week during a project. However, the other solution doesn’t have any proof it can help. Which software do you prefer? We both know the answer, right?

    It’s natural for us to be covered by something we trust or something we already know that worked for somebody else. The case study is like this protection we are always looking for before making a purchase or a decision. It’s not by chance that 77% of companies use this as part of their marketing strategies.

    Learn how to create a great case study in 10 tips

    As you can see by now, case studies can be a valuable content tool. After all, you can satisfy your customers’ needs by sharing real-life stories. But how can you structure this to create a powerful asset? First things first, it’s important to know that this type of content has a beginning, middle and end focused on the customer’s point of view. It includes:

    • summary to introduce an overview of your customer’s story;
    • problem to be solved and the expectations to reach this goal;
    • solution that helps the customer to overcome a difficult;
    • all the path to the success and the results achieved. 

    The more detailed, including also one quote (or more) from the customer, the more effective it might become. Let’s move this conversation to a new level because we want to share with you some tips to develop a great structure. Keep on reading!

    1. Introduce the problem 

    What is the meaning of this? The first step while writing a case study is to introduce your client’s problem. Show the reason that led him or her to search for your solution. Leave the background for later. Use this initial moment to give significance to this problem to be solved. A quote can be added here if you wish so.

    2. Write about the needs of your ideal customer

    Remember those blog posts about “how to” things? This is the idea here. When you build a text that meets the needs of your customers or are related to their industry, they are more likely to get the message. Besides, your products or services will attract their attention as solutions that may work for them as well.

    3. Use storytelling from start to finish

    There is nothing better than a good story, right? People enjoy reading content that creates a connection and brings facts altogether. Especially when it’s about something related to needs waiting to be satisfied and similar goals. Do you know the “hero’s journey” theory from Joseph Campbell? It outlines a transformation after an obstacle is overcome.

    4. Bet on tools to create interactive content

    What if instead of static content you had an extra resource to engage with potential buyers? That’s the main purpose of interactive content plus generating insights all the time to improve the level of engagement at every stage. After all, this kind of content is effective at differentiating from competitors.

    5. Try different types of case study

    Look at the variety of formats interactive tools offer and try different ways to share the content. You can use an interview with questions and answers, quoting your customer’s own words. Consider also turning the text into a podcast, video or even an infographic.

    6. Provide an easy-to-read format 

    Content can be really effective, but there are ways and ways to write good material. Keep in mind the format before starting to write. No matter how interesting and informative is a text, if it doesn’t include images, headers, bullet lists, bold (sometimes) the reader might feel distracted and leave the reading behind.

    7. Describe the results achieved

    Use a case study to show all the track records your customer has when paving the path to a successful solution. Results are important, after all, it’s all about it in the end. What matters the most during the buyer’s journey is getting a problem solved. 

    8. Include real data while writing

    Some businesses display numbers to show results ambiguously. To avoid that, try being as clear as possible. For instance, instead of saying that you doubled the traffic of your customers’ website, give your readers real numbers, based on real data and tangible results.

    9. Make the case study easy to find

    There is no point in having a great story to share without readers to enjoy them, right? So simplifying, reserve a place that is easy to find. Be sure that it’s pretty visible, besides investing in a strategy to spread it via social media, email marketing etc.

    10. Outline problem, solution, and results

    As the first tip when we talked about showing the problem. Use the primary section to do so and the next ones outline the solution, then the results. Add names, numbers and all data you have to base the story and make it more powerful.

    Connect case studies to interactive content

    If we had to come up with another case study definition, we would tell you to make the most of it gathering problems, solutions and results through interactive content. Maybe you thought about it, but still don’t know how to give the next step. So let us help you! 

    What about an addictive and shareable quiz? It’s an example of interactive content for the top of the funnel, which helps to generate leads in sales and create a buzz on social media. Interactive ebooks are a good option for the next stage in the middle of the funnel once the buyer can walk through a “choose your own adventure”. 

    Finally, for the bottom of the funnel, you could bet on a calculator that shows, for example, how much a customer can save choosing your solution. Tools like the ones we introduce here offer the buyers a way to explore and approach your business in a transparent way.

    So if you came all the reading up here, besides learning a case study definition, we have shared a lot of tips to build your strategy through this type of content. We also provide you many interesting ways to give your customers a new vision about the products or services you’re selling. Either using a quiz to engage or any other interactive tools, the thing is case studies are a powerful resource if you know how to use it well and spread your customer’s voice.

    What about all you’ve just learned? Try a quick start through an interactive infographic and explore the possibilities of this new content experience.

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