UPDATED APRIL 20, 2024

Like a magician turning paper into money, the right case studies can help turn pondering prospects into paying customers for your business.

They may have actual magic powers.

And if you’re not using them for your business, you’re really missing a trick!

What are case studies in business?

A case study is an in-depth look at a real-life situation in which a customer has either:

  • Bought your product
  • Used your service
  • Implemented your system
  • Followed your advice.

A case study is usually told in the form of a story and, like all good stories, has a beginning, a middle and an end.

The beginning sets the scene, describing your customer and the problem or need they had. The middle deals with what you did for them, and the end talks about the results you achieved.

Why are case studies important?

Case studies are a kind of social proof. They give you the chance to talk about a real-life example of something you’ve done for a customer and the results you achieved. And this validates the claims you’re making about your skills and the value of what you offer.

In practice, a case study allows potential new customers to see how working with you or buying your product could be the right decision for them, too.

Case study vs testimonial

Testimonials and reviews are given by the customer, so they’re always one-sided and only really scratch the surface of what happened. Your customer might describe the problem they had and how you solved it, but they can’t talk about the process that led to that outcome. This is where a case study makes the difference.

Case studies are created by you, and usually, with input from your customer. And this gives you the opportunity to show the project or scenario from both sides. Your customer can introduce their problem, you can talk about what you did to solve that problem, and your customer can talk about the results they got and the difference it’s made for them.

This gives you a tangible way to talk about your involvement in something you’ve done well — something you’re particularly proud of — and the impact you’ve made.

What makes a compelling case study?

The best case studies feature happy customers who’ve really benefited from what you’ve done for them. But that should be obvious.

More than that, they tell an interesting story that will keep your audience engaged.

For example, maybe:

  • The problem wasn’t straightforward
  • There were specific or complex challenges to overcome
  • Things went wrong and you had to turn them around
  • You used a rare, new or special technique to get the results
  • Something unexpected or surprising happened
  • The result was better than anyone expected.

A case study can just be your account of what happened, but it’s much more effective if it involves your customer and they tell it from their point of view, in their own words.

The benefits of case studies in marketing

Now you understand what a case study is and what makes a good one, we can look at how they work their magic and what they can achieve for you.

Woman conducting interview with man
Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Create engagement through storytelling

Businesses are constantly looking for ways to engage their audiences. And people enjoy stories — especially if they’re interesting. Case studies satisfy both sides.

A good story makes your customer the hero and details their journey as they negotiate their way from their problem to your solution.

Get a professional result

Testimonials can only do so much. Even if you give some guidance or provide a framework, ultimately, it’s your customer’s remit to write the testimonial and submit it.

But there’s no guarantee your customer will be good with words. They might not express themselves clearly enough, they might miss important points, or they might make mistakes.

With a case study, you can use a professional case study writer. Someone who can create a compelling story and integrate your customer’s experience.

Control the narrative

With a case study, you have control of your story.

Most case studies start life as a set of questions. These will be used to lead an audio or video conversation between an interviewer and the customer. The interviewer will have specific points they want to get from the conversation and can adapt their line of questioning to make sure those points are covered.

The interviewer could be your case study writer or another representative from your organisation.

Your case study writer will then take the interview and extract the choice information and soundbites to create a case study that sells you and your product or service.

Showcase your product or service

A case study is an opportunity to show what you offer as a real-world example and in a setting where it has been successful. It’s a chance to talk about the elements that have had the biggest impact on your customer and which have been most transformative.

Demonstrate social proof

Social proof is the evaluation of your product or service by people who’ve used it or experienced it first hand.

Demonstrating social proof is important to your prospects — 93% of potential buyers read online reviews before deciding to purchase a product or not.

Case studies are fantastic for demonstrating social proof, because they go much deeper than testimonials or reviews. And they spend more time setting the scene and describing the problem in detail.

This allows prospects to align their experience with the experience of your customers and imagine themselves in your customers’ shoes.

Build trust and credibility

It’s a well-known fact that people will trust what others say about your business more than they trust what you say about it yourself.

In their 2024 analysis of online review trends and statistics, Pissed Consumer found that 75.5% of consumers trust online reviews and 90.6% always read them before making a purchase.

So it stands to reason that the experiences of your previous customers will be key to establishing and building trust and credibility among your prospects.

Case studies can do this more effectively than a standard review or testimonial, because they see the situation from both sides. This means they can take into account things you did behind the scenes that your customers might not have been aware of at the time.

They can be especially helpful, for example, if you had a particular challenge to work through and wanted to show how you went above and beyond what you would normally have to do.

Convert more prospects into customers

The storytelling used in case studies can help to increase your conversions. This is because storytelling is designed to trigger an emotional response and 95% of purchasing decisions are emotionally driven.

When prospects can relate to the problems described in the case study and can see how your solution has worked for someone else, they’re more likely to believe it could work for them, too — and they’re more likely to buy.

Inform future copy and campaigns

Conducting a case study can teach you a lot about your customers.

For example, you get to see:

  • What they focus on and what’s important to them
  • How they feel about your product/service in their own words
  • How they describe things and the language they use
  • The difference you’ve made to their lives first hand.

The insight you get from hearing customers talk about their experience is priceless.

This can be used to inform and strengthen the copy and campaigns you create in future, making them more customer-centric and more compelling for your readers.

Need a case study writer?

If you like what you’ve read here and think case studies could be a valuable marketing tool for your business, you may be wondering what to do next.

One course of action would be to get in touch with an experienced case study writer who understands how case studies work and can help guide you through the next stages.

I’m Jenny Lucas, a freelance copywriter based in Leicester, UK. I’ve been writing case studies for my clients for several years now and have seen the potential they have to inform prospects and create new business.

If you’d like to find out more and see if we could work together, please visit my main website or get in touch.

Jenny-Lucas-typing-on-laptop
Photo by Matt Glover Photography

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