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The 7 Essential Elements of a Great Case Study

Template: 23 Case Study Questions Every Marketer Should Ask

March 24, 2023

By Mike Wolfe

Research shows that 93 percent of consumers say online reviews will affect shopping choices. Online reviews certainly help tell a part of your organization’s story, but when you want to offer a bigger picture and really show off what you can do, there’s nothing like a case study. 

A great case study can help assure your audience that you’re more than capable of helping them with their problems because you’ve been there and done that for similar organizations. Ever looked at an organization’s website and checked out their case studies or testimonials before filling out a form or giving them a call?

These are great pieces of collateral that can have an immediate impact on the audience you connect with and can be used in a number of ways throughout the course of your marketing and sales efforts.

When you are looking to put together your next case study (or revamp some of your older ones), take these essential elements into consideration.

1. Common Problem or Challenge

Start with Clearly Defined Issues.

When your audience takes the time to read your case study, they likely do so because they want to see that you resolved a problem or challenge they’re facing. Before writing a case study, consider some common problems or challenges your personas are experiencing and start there. 

2. Explanation of Resolution

Describe the Problems, but Really Showcase Your Solutions.

Your customer came to you with a problem or need for you to solve—and you knocked it out of the park! Don’t sell yourself short when it comes to describing how you resolved the customer’s problems. Highlight the ways your product or service was the perfect fit for your customer so potential customers can start connecting the dots on how you can help them too.

3. Compelling Story

Tell the Story of Your Customers’ Experience.

Problems and solutions are important to cover, but don’t forget to make your case study relatable to your audience. Telling the story from the perspective of the customer and describing how they felt and what they experienced throughout the process helps your audience put themselves in your customer’s shoes. 

Template: 23 Case Study Questions Every Marketer Should Ask

4. Customer Quotes

Give Your Customer a Voice.

Take your storytelling to the next level by using real customer quotes that support your case study. The best quotes will draw a clear connection between the customer’s good experience and your product or service, offering an intimate look at how your business helped them succeed. Be sure to choose quotes that perfectly illustrate the results you achieved for your customer, and make sure they accurately reflect the customer’s opinion.

5. Successful Outcome

Let’s See Some Results!

You’ve got the beginning of the story (why you and the customer met) and the middle of the story (how you worked to help them). Now, in order for this to have a happy ending for both your customers and your audience, you need the results to bring it home.

The key here is to be as specific as possible with your outcomes. Let those results shine and give your audience a glimpse into what they can potentially see from partnering with your organization.

6. Visual Aids

Engage Readers Visually.

Visual aids help bring a tangible element to the case study, making it more memorable and engaging for readers. Case studies that include visual elements such as photos, diagrams, infographics, or videos can often be more persuasive and effective than those that don’t. Visual aids can also help make complex topics more easily understandable, and they often create a stronger emotional connection with potential customers.

7. Descriptive Name

Cap It off with a Great Title.

When writing a marketing case study, it is important to include an effective title that accurately describes the content. A catchy and well-crafted title can help draw readers in and entice them to learn more about the journey your customer went through. Good titles are concise yet descriptive, so readers can quickly understand what the case study is about and why it is important. 

Ready to Write Your Amazing New Case Study? 

Here are a few quick tips to get you started:

  • Interview your customer about their experience. Ask questions that will help you tell the full story from their point of view, such as:
    • What was the customer looking to solve when partnering with you?
    • What did the customer need that you were able to provide?
    • What has their experience been with your product or service?
  • Show their results and give a brief overview of how your tools, strategies, and/or recommendations were impactful.
  • Use bullet points to emphasize key findings within the story and grab some quotes from your conversation with the customer to highlight.
  • Create some calls to action for the sidebars or footers of your related blog content.

Once created, there are many great places to showcase your next case study. Link to it from your sales collateral or event materials (including your booths and product sheets). Have the resources to use video in your customer conversations? Send these videos out through your social channels to help your audience put a face and a voice to the results you can bring them.

One final piece of advice: Look at metrics about how your audience is primarily viewing content, and capitalize on those options for your next great case study. Best of luck!

This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated since.


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Topics: Content Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Audio Blog