What Is a Case Study?
A case study is a narrative (often including illustrations) showing the process of a single project, from start to finish. It’s an example of a problem you solved, and how your company specifically helped. For us, there’s typically five pieces to a case study that help tell the story:
- Company Background
- Process + Partnership
How Case Studies Compel and Why
Instead of telling how great your company is at what it does, an excellent case study shows your work. It’s proof that you do what you say you do—and well. It goes deeper than a testimonial. Well-written case studies are an insight into both your partnership and project completion capabilities. They’re a useful tool for your sales teams to close the deal, particularly when the case study shares features related to your prospects’ needs.
When you show outcomes with indisputable numbers, it’s simple math. A KPI (like an increase in organic traffic rate or a bump in conversion rate) is a statistic that any prospect can see, especially if you include charts and graphs in your case study. Address the goals of your clients and how you helped them achieve those goals.
How to Structure a Case Study, Start to Finish
Now that you know the what and why of case studies, let’s talk about how to structure a compelling case study.
Get a close look at the starting point. What were the client’s goals? Where did they want to end up? How was this project the solution they needed? Understanding the history and background of the client company is also vital in projecting the path forward.
Interview the stakeholders. This includes project managers, designers, developers, copywriters, and anyone else that was significantly involved with the project. Using anecdotes and behind-the-scenes information, you can give color and shape to the black and white bits of the story. Having follow-up questions handy can help get you the details that will make the case study jump off the page.
Always include the challenges along with the goals (while making them as flattering as possible—they’re still your client). Additionally, including the challenges of the project and partnership will help drive home the point that you are flexible, but don’t forget to include how those challenges were overcome. Remember, a win for you is a win for your client—that’s always how it ends when you’re creating a case study. Victory doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Charts, quotes, quantitative numbers, and images can be included in your case study if it helps drive home the point. If an image can land your next big contract, include it. Videos are particularly engaging, but not every company has the bandwidth to do this—so focus on the media available to you, and put it to good use.
Writing the Case Study
Start writing. Put it in logical order. Think about who will be reading this case study. It will most likely be prospects farther down the funnel who will take the time to read it. While you create the outline, determine which pieces of the project (its processes and successes) will most resound with your intended audience. In revealing the process and end results, you can attract similar clientele—especially if your sales team is clear on what services you provided in the case study. If you’re hoping to partner with B2B technology companies for example, write a case study on who you’ve helped already in that sector.
Examples of Case Studies
Some of our own clients have put case study best practices into use. Here are a few notable case study examples:
1. PEC: Use of Video
Energy optimization company Pacific Energy Concepts (PEC) has mastered the art of video alongside text, stats, and images. This multi-pronged approach has broad appeal, and the video answers more questions, allowing for a greater chance of conversion.
Our favorite on PEC’s site: Daltile
In this case study, the video shows how clearly and brightly the showroom shines after PEC installed their new LED lighting system. Daltile was able to expand their profitability because the stone slabs on display were now able to be accurately seen by customers; the forklift drivers could safely operate in all the well-lit areas around the warehouse; and Daltile reduced their energy consumption by nearly half. The case study offers amazing stats, Before-and-After slider images, and a short video of the client and project manager speaking to the challenges that were solved with PEC’s lighting installation.
2. Victorious: Use of Stats
Every one of Victorious’ case studies is named with the most impressive stat of each clients’ results.
Our favorite on Victorious’ site: Eden Health
In this case study, Victorious combines stats and images for some staggering bar charts. They also bring out the big badges—Global Search Award Nominations for this project, showing a bit of social proof within their own case study. Three stats at the top drive the entire case study, and the challenge, solution, and results are summarized for skimmers. We’re big fans!
- Restaurant365: Home Field Advantage
Yes, this is one of our own case studies! This Restaurant365 case study has all the elements: Catchy headlines, company background, process details, challenges, and images galore. (And a great little animation to help explain more of the company background.)
Compelling case studies that convert tell the true story behind your success—which equates to the success of your clients. If you claim to be collaborative but don’t show proof of the partnership, your sales may reflect it. If you want to break into a specific niche but no case studies can prove your talent in that area, you may have to pivot. Well-written case studies, supported with (visual and quantifiable) evidence provide transparency, keep your company focused on the process, and streamline the sales funnel for conversions.