If your job description includes blogging, it's time to re-introduce case studies, content which simply documents how your company's product or service solves a customer problem. The case study has been a marketing staple for decades, but is now experiencing a renaissance as bloggers realize its potential as an online marketing tool.
Blogging about case studies educates potential customers about your products, and is known to be an effective lead generator. When customers are on the fence, a case study moves prospects further down your sales funnel; allowing them to drive and envision how your product or service will improve their bottom line. A case study is often that missing link that moves prospects to a purchase decision (Tweet This!).
The following template will make your first case study blog-post a piece of cake:
Research and Planning
Tactic #1. Be Strategic.
What are your goals and priorities? There might be a specific product or benefit that you wish to highlight, or a certain company size.
Tactic #2: Identify customer stories.
Not just any stories, but those that support your strategic goals. Seek a common customer problem with which other companies can identify. If you are trying to differentiate your company based on customer service, try blogging about a case study that reinforces the service message. Uncover appropriate case studies by reviewing customer data and consulting with your sales, support, and account management teams, who will steer you in the right direction.
Tactic #3: Invite clients to participate in case study.
Start by sending out a brief email noting their success and inquiring if they'd like to share their story with a broader audience. The letter should be signed, or co-signed, by the employee who has the closest relationship with the client. Not everyone will respond, of course, which is to be expected. Once you have your list of participants, the next step is to collect the data. This will require an interview; be accommodating by giving your clients the option of an email or phone interview.
Organization & Writing
1) Create an attention-grabbing lead paragraph.
The lead should raise a specific issue or problem that your client encountered. Make the challenge common enough that others outside of your business can identify with it. Don't make your case study all about how great your company is; a case study is meant to examine how your client employed your service to solve a problem. It's more effective when clients toot your horn.
2) The Body
The next three paragraphs should be devoted to the meat of the story. What did you do to help your client solve their problem? How was the solution executed and by whom? What issues arose?
The most important part of your case study is actual, measurable results (Tweet This!). How have your company's products or services enhanced your client? Has there been growth or other positive outcomes that the client attributes to your product? Don't just say it -- show it! Use client quotations and photographs to increase credibility of your case study.
While typical metrics might include increased revenue, traffic, leads, and click-through rates, not all impressive results are quantitative. Maybe your customer was able to increase efficiency or do more with less staff. In this section you can also address lessons learned. What insights can be gleamed from your client's story?
4.) Call To Action
In the best case scenario, prospects will take a specific action after reading your blog post. The idea is to motivate them to engage and interact with your brand. At the conclusion of your case study, ask your readers to share similar challenges. Provide a link to the product or service you have showcased and your contact information.
Publishing/Distributing Case Studies
- Make sure each case study is tagged within a certain category, like industry or company size; that way, when prospects come to your site, they can quickly find a relevant case study.
- Share your "case study" blog with all your hot sales leads to facilitate conversion.
- Share your case study through your social media channels.
- Thank every client who participates.
Additional Tips and Recommendations
- Make your case study part of your online press kit and send it to members of the media to pave the way for future publicity.
- Send small flip cameras to your customers so they can record their stories as they unfold.
- Use Skype to interview clients around the world.
- Encourage your clients to post the case study on their website and social media, to further extend the reach of your message.