Crafting the perfect B2B case study: A how to guide
Case studies are one of the most valuable assets you can create. Find out how to craft the perfect B2B case study in our blog.
Published: 09 Sep 2020
6 minutes read
Think about how you go about making a purchase. Do you make a purchase right away, or do you do your research, or read a review?
Chances are, you probably want proof that the product or service you’re purchasing is worth it, and that other buyers similar to you have gained value from it - well, so do your customers. In the B2B world, it’s easy to forget how much we’re asking of our customers; often selling more expensive products or services in specialised areas, it’s easy to forget that your customers aren’t just their business - they’re people too, and they want the justification as to why they should commit to making a purchase.
Case studies give them this justification. They play an absolutely crucial role in both marketing and sales, and are often some of the most valuable pieces of content you’ll ever create. So, they need to be the best they can be.
“90% of buyers who read positive customer success content claimed that it influenced their purchasing decision”
The stats speak for themselves. Here’s how to craft a B2B case study that not only resonates with potential customers, but actually encourages them to make a purchase.
1. Match your case study to your ideal customer
A well-thought out and constructed case study can often be one of the most valuable marketing and sales assets you’ll ever have, helping buyers finalise their decision. However, in order for a case study to work in this way, you need to understand exactly what challenges your ideal customers are facing, and which solutions can best meet their needs. Knowing this information will help you better find an angle for your case study, and ultimately ensure that it generates the results you want.
In order to find out the information you need, you should look at your buyer personas, conduct market research, or ask previous customers what made them choose you, and the core challenges they were facing. This will help you better understand the narrative your case study needs to have to appeal to the persona you want to target.
2. Identify a customer success story
Once you’ve established what your ideal customer wants from your case study, it’s time to find a customer success story that matches it. When deciding on this, be sure to choose a story that is both:
- Complete (an ongoing project ISN’T a success story yet)
- Relevant (your offering needs to have made a real difference to the customer in question, and address the concerns of your target customer)
Often, B2B organisations will be wary of choosing a success story that doesn’t showcase absolutely every aspect of their offering - but this doesn’t matter. If you want to use the case study to promote one product, or an aspect of your service, it makes sense to focus on a success story in these areas. It’s much better to create a more specific case study, rather than one that is too broad and lacks focus.
Think of it this way - if a potential customer stumbles upon a case study that relates to their exact needs and challenges, you’ve got a much higher chance of securing the sale.
3. Construct a narrative
While this first point seems rather obvious, it’s surprising how many B2B case studies lack a narrative. Often, many organisations will simply rush through the challenges a customer faced and get straight to the solution - however, this isn’t the best way to go. Case studies should:
- Utilise a story telling method that is contextual and relevant to the industry of your prospects
- Discuss both the goals and challenges of the customer prior to finding a solution
- Detail how the customer came to a solution
- Highlight why your solution was chosen, and the value the customer gained as a result
The idea is that this way, other potential buyers will read the case study and recognise the similarities with their own situation, and therefore begin to seriously consider your offering as a solution to their challenges. You want to address how you helped the customer throughout the process, and the relationship between the two businesses. This will establish a degree of trust, and potential customers will begin to see your business in a more human light. While you don’t want to get too detailed and risk losing the attention of your audience, constructing a well thought out narrative to the case study will ultimately yield the best results.
4. Use statistics
An important thing to remember when crafting your B2B case study is that potential customers will resonate with different aspects of it. For example, while some may prefer a heavily detailed, longer form case study, some won’t be willing to read lengthy copy. That’s why it’s always great to include statistics in any B2B case study, as not only do they add value to your words - they attract attention. For best results, try including a stat in the title of the case study - one that showcases the value of your offering. Often, stats draw readers in - especially if you post your case study across social media platforms such as LinkedIn.
Statistics show the results of your efforts right away - use them!
5. Make it visual
Just because so many B2B buyers use case studies to influence their buying decision, it doesn’t mean they want to be faced with a wall of text - use images, diagrams or even infographics to break it up. Additionally, the popularity of video makes it the perfect medium for a case study - and gives you more opportunities to highlight key stats and quotes. Even better - you could ask the customer featured in your case study if they’re willing to do a short interview, to give a human face to the success story. Whichever route you take, make sure to add visual elements, and design your case study in a way that is attractive and engaging.
6. End with a call to action
It’s important that your case study has a summary and a natural ending, leading to a call to action (CTA) that helps guide your prospective customer into making a decision. The end of your case study should speak directly to the audience, explaining how the success story you’ve just described can be replicated for them - prompting them to take action. Since your case study’s purpose is to convert your prospects into customers, your CTA should be clear, direct and persuasive in order to get them to take the required action.
Case studies, while sometimes difficult to create and produce, are undoubtedly one of the most important assets your company will have, and it’s worth investing the time and resources into getting them absolutely right. On top of the 6 key steps listed above, there are some other things to bear in mind, including:
- Remember social sharing - your case study should be able to be shared quickly and easily across social channels to both promote brand awareness and increase your audience.
- Craft your case study using best practice SEO and UX - like any other asset you produce, your case study should be optimised for search engines and have the user journey in mind throughout.
- Don’t use too much marketing schtick - this is an important one. Even though your case study is for marketing purposes, it shouldn’t be driven by marketing messaging - meaning, there’s no need to fill the case study with information a prospect could easily find elsewhere - get to the point!
So, you should have everything you need to craft the perfect B2B case study; however we’ve made it even easier to get started with our B2B case study template!