How to Write a Case Study

Planning to write a case study to showcase your company’s expertise?  Great idea! A content preferences survey in 2017 found that 78% of buyers prefer to use case studies over all other types of content when researching purchases. It’s easy to understand why they are such a valuable content format, but as many marketing managers could attest, the process of planning and writing case studies can be challenging.

If you haven’t had to plan and write this type of content before, or you simply find the process challenging, I hope our seven tips below will make the task easier.

What is a case study?

A marketing case study is a detailed analysis that illustrates how a company successfully addressed a particular client’s needs through its products or services. It’s a narrative that showcases the impact of the company’s solutions in solving real-world problems. Typically, the format outlines the challenges faced by the client, the approaches employed by the company to tackle these issues, and the results of these efforts. They often highlight measurable outcomes such as increased revenue, improved efficiency, or enhanced customer satisfaction.

The case study is a valuable content format for building trust and credibility with potential clients, demonstrating expertise or capability, and illustrating the tangible benefits of the services or products provided.

Why do they work so well?

A case study provides an overview of a positive business transaction with a client. Unlike a testimonial, it’s not just a review or report from a customer who supports your business. It’s a success story. A detailed account of how you successfully solved a problem your client faced.

If you are targeting particular industries, writing case studies that resolve challenges unique or highly relevant to those industries, can help you gain the confidence of prospective clients. They’re often a key part of the content strategy for B2B products or services.

Case studies can attract new customers, build trust in your business, and make the work of your sales team a bit easier. They also provide evidence that you care about the problems your clients face and find solutions.

A good case study breaks down the process for potential clients, familiarising them with the steps they may go through when working with your business.

Case studies and the buyer journey

No matter what stage of the buyer journey potential clients are in, they can be drawn to the useful detail found in great case studies:

  • Awareness Stage: How the client came upon your business and what sort of problems needed to be solved can resonate with readers facing similar situations.
  • Consideration Stage: Details on your approach and any specific strategies you created for a client can appeal to potential customers with similar needs.
  • Decision Stage: Reading how you overcome any challenges that occurred, or went above and beyond in providing your services, can increase buyer confidence and provide further evidence that your company would be a good choice.

Illustration of ontent decisions

Good planning is the key to success 

The most compelling marketing case studies identify real clients and successful projects. Creating this type of content can be a significant exercise, but the following seven key steps will give you some structure around planning the content and dealing with stakeholders, which will make the writing phase much easier. We also have a free case study template below that you can download and use as you wish.

Choosing clients and projects

The first step in choosing the right clients, is to have a clear goal and purpose in mind. Are you building a broad cross-sector or cross-solution case study library? Or, is your goal to increase enquiries from a particular sector, promote a particular service, or to demonstrate your capability around larger projects? These strategic goals will help you identify the projects that are best suited. If you’re fortunate enough to have plenty of options, your next step is to choose the clients.

Choose clients you have a good relationship with. You want the finished content to show off your strengths so pick clients who are enthusiastic about your company’s services.  If your direct engagement with clients is limited, you may need to ask the account or project managers to suggest suitable clients.

Stakeholder management

If you’re overseeing the content development, you’ll need all your stakeholder management and diplomacy skills, and a good dose of patience. There are several factors to navigate. The first of these is gaining client permission to produce the content that highlights their project.

In fact, you don’t merely want their permission – you want their enthusiastic cooperation. You also want their data that demonstrates outcomes, some of their time, and a fabulous quote that serves as a testimonial for your company. You might also want pictures (construction related projects)  or screen shots (digital projects).

Case study stakeholder management

Who you speak to will depend on the company size and structure. You may need to speak with someone on the marketing or PR team in the first instance. Either way, it’s important to ensure that the permission to proceed comes from the person with the authority to give it.

Accept that some clients will decline. If your company was called in to fix a problem, the client might prefer not to advertise that the problem occurred. A case study might make your business look competent, but the client less so. There can also be less obvious factors at play, such as relationships with other companies that worked on the project, or with one of your competitors.

It is possible to write a case study without mentioning a client’s name, but we don’t recommend doing it. Not only might it damage the relationship with your client if they haven’t given permission, but a case study without a client name is like an anonymous testimonial: largely worthless when it comes to establishing trust.

With the green light in hand, it’s time to engage with other stakeholders before you begin the writing.

  1. Identify Key Stakeholders

Identifying the right stakeholders (internally and externally) is crucial as they provide the foundational insights and data that shape the narrative. Key stakeholders typically include the client company’s C-suite executives, project leads, direct beneficiaries of the solution (like customers), and internal team members who were involved in the project. Recognize which stakeholders are critical for various aspects of the case study, such as providing testimonials, technical details, and outcome metrics.

  1. Understand Stakeholder Perspectives

Each stakeholder has unique views and experiences related to the project that can enrich your case study. Identify their specific concerns, motivations, and the related challenges they faced before or during the project. Understanding these perspectives helps in crafting a compelling customer story that showcases the problem-solving capabilities of your service or product.

  1. Engage Stakeholders Early and Often

Engagement should begin at the earliest stage of the case study planning process and continue throughout the writing and review stages. This helps ensure the accuracy of information, and is also a great opportunity to build relationships that could smooth the path for future case studies.

  1. Make it Easy!

Make the participation process as easy as possible for stakeholders. Schedule interviews and discussions at their convenience, offer to send questions in advance, and be clear about the kind of input and commitment you need from them. If you require detailed technical data or specific project results, be straight-forward about what is needed and why it is essential for the case study. Your consideration and respect for their time makes their enthusiastic cooperation more likely.

Gathering the information

Whether you’re planning to write a case study in-house or outsource to a content agency, creating a process now around gathering the information will be a time-saver for future projects.

Create a questionnaire

Create a questionnaire to send to clients who are willing to participate. Keep the questions simple and easy to understand to ensure more people respond. Ask questions related to reasons they were in the market, challenges they were facing, and the results of working with your business.

Encourage subjects to provide tangible results if any are available. If your good work has increased the client’s revenue or profitability, you’ll want your case study readers to know. Do keep in mind that clients typically won’t want to reveal precise details like revenue figures or visitor numbers, but many will be happy to express any relevant improvements as a percentage.

Allow space in the questionnaire for clients to express themselves – this can provide you with quotes to include in the case study.

Telephone interviews

A common approach to writing case studies, is to have writers conduct telephone interviews with the client representatives. This can be done in place of sending a questionnaire, or in addition to the questionnaire where more information or detail is needed.

An approach we like is to offer a choice – ask clients whether they would prefer to receive the questionnaire by email or have a telephone interview with the writer. That’s because the key to gathering information is to make conveying the information as easy as possible. Some clients will be reluctant to commit to a phone interview and prefer to complete a questionnaire in their own time; others balk at filling out documents, and the idea of a phone interview is more appealing. If you’re only offering one option and they’re reluctant, you’ll be less likely to get a quality response, or in some cases, any response at all.

Illustration of business man running

Develop a case study template

If you won’t be doing the writing yourself, create a template to guide your content writers. This helps to ensure their work will meet your expectations and cover the aspects you want covered. A case study template also establishes a consistent approach for your future case studies, regardless of who does the work.

If you have (good) case study examples at hand, give these to your writer as a guide.

Don’t forget, you can download and use our free case study template.

case study template

Writing a case study

While the structure might be similar across case studies, each one should tell a story. A story of challenge and success that follows a clear narrative:

  • Introduction: Outline the client’s industry, the challenges they faced, and the objectives of the project.
  • Challenges: Detail the specific obstacles that the client encountered.
  • Solutions: Describe the strategies and actions your company took to address these challenges.
  • Results: Highlight the outcomes and benefits experienced by the client, supported by data and client testimonials.
  • Conclusion: Sum up the case study and reflect on the broader implications for similar clients.

Don’t be shy about including any unexpected challenges that arose during the project – a bump or two along the way is authentic, and authenticity builds trust.

(If you’re planning to outsource the writing task to a content agency, we’d love to be considered! We can also assist you with internal and external approvals)

Give your case studies visual appeal

Once the writing is completed, add relevant photos. This is especially important when the work your company did included visual changes or improvements. You could reach out to your client for before and after pictures, but it’s a good idea to establish a practice of taking your own progress shots during significant projects.

Where projects are digital rather than physical, you may be able to use charts, graphs and screenshots to add visual appeal and back up information in your copy.

Polish and proofread

Typos, punctuation errors or inconsistent spacing can create a perception of carelessness – not a quality that is attractive to potential clients. You want your published case studies to shine in every way, so polish and proofread carefully before publication.

Other co-marketing opportunities

Why stop there? If you have clients who are enthusiastic about working with you, consider other forms of co-marketing. Pooling resources for other types of content creation can mean sharing the costs and amplifying reach and influence. It’s worth thinking about opportunities for co-branded white papers, or co-hosted webinars and podcasts.

Get started!

Done well, case studies can be among the most effective pieces of content you create. They tell fabulous stories – stories that appeal because they’re situation-relevant, ‘real life’, and have the appealing element of people overcoming obstacles to succeed.

The key to success is in the planning. Develop a streamlined process for identifying appropriate projects, getting permission, collecting information and images, and writing the case studies, and you’ll soon be able to turn our fresh ones regularly with minimum effort.

Have you helped your clients to overcome challenges, upgrade systems, create special spaces or boost their revenue? If you have, creating one or two case studies for each type of client you hope to attract could be well worth your while.

And if your internal marketing resources are stretched and you’d like a professional writer to write a case study for you, Article Writers Australia can help – call us 1300 880 543 to discuss your requirements.

B2B Case Study Infographic

Article Writers Australia Pty Ltd | Website | + posts

Leonie Seysan is the Director of Article Writers Australia, and manages the team of professional writers and editors. She holds a Bachelor of Communications Degree (Media Studies).

“Succinct, engaging
and accurate”

I’ve worked with the team at Article Writers Australia for over 2 years now. They’ve been instrumental in ensuring our articles and case studies are succinct, engaging, and accurate.

They do feel like they are part of my team – they know us so well I think I could write a brief on a Post-It note.

Fi Arnold, Digital Marketing Manager, Kennards Hire

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