It should be pretty easy for B2B marketers to recite the values and attributes of their offered product or service. But what does that list mean to a potential customer? Why should they care?
Case studies are an opportunity way to breathe life into what might otherwise be a staid (and context-free) guide to a product’s features and benefits.
Nearly 80% of B2B buyers said they referenced case studies as part of their buying research, and 42% of customers in both mid and late stages of the buying process find case studies valuable, according to a Demand Gen Report survey.
But turning a customer success story into a good case study isn’t a foolproof process. Here are three B2B case study best practices that will give your target audience an irresistible reason to talk to you.
1. First and foremost, tell a compelling story
You need an identifiable problem or challenge that your company helped a customer solve. If you have a hard time explaining the problem, solution and result of the situation, the reader will have a hard time seeing it as well.
Once you’ve identified a good story to tell, HOW you tell it is just as important. Persuasion is a powerful force, but only when it’s done correctly.
How much detail or technical data to include may depend on where in the buyer journey you hope to use the case study. An anecdotal snippet may increase interest whereas a data-driven business case might compel a customer to purchase.
No matter the intended use, case studies should be about storytelling at their heart. This is perhaps the most important of our B2B case study best practices listed here.
Humans are going to read these, and humans like to read a good story. Straightforward facts about problems and their solutions might be technically accurate but boring.
Embrace conversational readability, and make the language easily understandable. Even if your intended audience is a technical one, lean away from excessive jargon, which tends to make language more stilted and dry.
2. Make the customer the star
Research shows that B2B buyers are almost 50% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value in their business purchase decision — like the opportunity for career advancement or confidence and pride in their choice.
So your case study must show them how your product can provide that value. The best avenue to do that is by telling a story they can relate to.
As any good storyteller can tell you, a hero is essential to draw in audiences. No matter how awesome the widget you make is, it’s never going to be the hero.
Elicit curiosity and interest from your readers by making the customer, not the product or service, the hero of your case study tale.
What challenges were they facing? How did that make it hard for them to succeed? How did their experience change after they adopted your solution?
When interviewing your customer for a case study, ask follow-up questions like “How did that make you feel?” to help flip the focus from facts to emotions.
This focus not only brings a case study to life, it helps readers put themselves in the shoes of the featured customer, making them more likely to recognize their own need in your potential solution and to see the personal value it can provide them.
This approach, which infuses your case studies with personality, can also ramp up your company’s “likeability.”
People buy from people they like — yes, even in B2B. Good case studies can make your company more “likeable” by telling a relatable story.
3. Lean into credibility
Case studies, as a kind of testimonial on steroids, boost trust and provide social proof, both important to establishing credibility in the hearts and minds of customers
The most obvious way to establish credibility is to incorporate data into your case studies. Whether it’s increased throughput or ROI, reduced maintenance costs or another statistic that will resonate with your target audience, data that shows how your product or service succeeded for a customer will make your case study more believable right out of the gate.
But measurable figures aren’t always available. In that case, you can still cultivate credibility in other ways. Incorporate a quote from a customer spokesperson. Include photos of individuals and use their full name and job title.
These markers of humanity, of real satisfied customers, imbue case studies with a kind of intangible credibility simply because people can relate to other people.
A well-executed B2B case study can do more than recount a success. With the right approach, it can become an inspiration-driving, sales-boosting, marketing superstar. These B2B case study best practices will put you well on your way to convincing your audience how valuable your product or service is to them.
Case studies aren’t the only content marketing tactic you should employ. Check out these statistics on how valuable blogging can be.