When potential customers browse for a product or solution online, they're asking themselves, "Is this brand trustworthy?"
There are many things that can go wrong when buying something online. People risk losing their financial data, they may get a product that is not what was advertised, or they could deal with unresponsive customer support and other issues.
One of the top things your marketing content should build is your audience's trust in your business, and one of the best ways to create social proof through case studies.
Here's what you should know about case studies, why you should create them and how to leverage them effectively to get more people to buy from your brand online.
Why case studies work
Case studies are real-life examples of businesses solving a problem. What makes case studies so powerful is that they are a form of storytelling in the business world.
Everyone loves stories. They are easy to remember, they illustrate concepts in practical ways and evoke emotions in one's audience. Creating an emotional response can improve the effectiveness of your marketing. Reports on emotional marketing say that emotional content can improve marketing efficacy by 70%.
When you create a case study, you offer your audience a colorful story that they can clearly picture. They can relate to your customers whom you feature in your studies, and they'll understand how your product is relevant to them.
Case studies create social proof by combining personal and business stories with hard facts and data.
Your potential customers do intensive research before buying from you. One study on content consumption found that 78% of potential buyers prefer to read case studies to research a product. Studies on written content like blogs say that case studies and how-to posts are the ones that create the most credibility.
Let's look at how you can develop a case study and leverage it to grow your business.
How to develop a case study
Most case studies are made up of three parts:
- The problem faced by a business (in our case, a customer)
- The solution to the problem
- And the outcome after you applied the solution to the problem
These three parts of the case study are the main information you need to present. Let's look at the steps you need to take to build case studies for your online business.
List potential case study candidates.
You can do this in a few different ways. Ask your customer support staff or sales staff for customers experiencing success using your products. Or look at your data to see which customers are making the most of your products. When you have a list of possible candidates, you can narrow it down.
Do a detailed analysis of your best customers.
When you've identified a pool of customers, you'll want to look at their performance with your product in greater detail. Using your CRM and back-end reports of your products, you should see customers who've gained outstanding results from working with your brand. At this point, you should be able to pick a few candidates and approach them.
Get in touch with your customer.
You will most likely send your proposal to create a case study via email. Create an email and share how you think your customers have done a standout job. Inform them that you'd like to celebrate their success by making a case study and that they'll get featured on your website. Once they accept, you can send a follow-up email to give more information and set dates to carry out the interview.
Carry out the interview.
It's crucial that you create your questions beforehand. Start by asking your customers what they do, who their customers are and the problems they faced. Learn more about the solutions they looked for. Once they start sharing information about how your business helped them, ask for details that include numbers and examples of positive changes. Cost savings, higher conversion rates, improved customer satisfaction and other details are important.
Structure your case study.
You now information about your customer that you can put together to make a case study. There are several ways to structure your story. We pointed out that case studies have three parts: you address a problem, present a solution and then the results. It doesn't necessarily follow that this is how you have to create the final version of your case study. Here are other ways you may wish to present it:
- You can tell the story from beginning to end.
- You can use a challenge, solution and benefits structure.
- You can use a case study structure that covers background, goals, strategies, the execution and subsequent results.
The way we do it in one of our brands is as follows:
- The first section provides an overview of the company.
- We include one section about the results the company achieved from using our products.
- We explore the steps they took to get these results.
- We examine the data from the results.
- We end with the conclusions and main points that potential customers can draw from the case study.
Build your case study according to the structure that makes the most sense. Sometimes, the actual events themselves will determine how you should build the study.
Add visual content.
You're already building a powerful story in the form of a case study. But adding images, graphs and even videos can make your information more interesting. Try to present the changes the customer experienced in the form of a graph.
To make the people in your case study more real, you could add their picture, role and include a quote from them that forms an important point in your study. With these steps, you'll have a comprehensive case study that celebrates your customer and highlights how well your products help people.
Share the case study
Once you've made your case studies, you need to share them with your audience.
- Share your case study on social media and tag the company featured in it. Also, ask your customer to share your study on their social media, too. Platforms like Facebook impact more than 50% of people's purchasing decisions.
- Feature the case study on your website, and direct site visitors to it.
- Whenever you create a new case study, send it out through your newsletters.
- Link to the case studies in your regular blog posts wherever they are relevant.
The more your share and highlight your case studies, the more you'll build social proof. This type of content gives customers a reason to trust your brand and improve their engagement.
When creating your case study, don't be afraid to make it like a story. Feature the interviewee, who could be the CEO or some other senior-level executive. Talk about human hopes and fears and how your customer's life and business is affected by the problem and the subsequent solution your brand offers.
Bring your story together with statistics, facts, numbers and graphs. And end your case study with a call to action. Potential customers who come across your material will be more likely to reach out to you, join your newsletter or take some other type of action that leads to them buying from you.
There are other ways you can add social proof. Add testimonials, encourage positive reviews, or share user-generated content featuring your products on social media.
Case studies form a critical type of social proof. Use them to convince customers to work with you, and learn more about your own business.