Crafting the ultimate case study
The best case studies are a smart mix of strategic design and quality content.
Published on 29 Aug 2023
The case study formula
Pretty much every website is going to have some sort of case study section, so the real question is how to make yours stand out?
Many can fall into a trap of a lengthy piece that doesn't get read in detail as it was designed. However, there are ways to hook the reader in with both strategic design and quality content that ensure that they leave with the right message, even if they haven't read every word.
Looking through case study sections on the web, we only select the top ones for Awesome Marketing Websites. Here's some of the things we've noticed that the really great case studies do.
Use headings like news headlines
A popular approach in case studies is to have a few paragraphs titled ‘Problem’ ‘Solution’ ‘Result’. While this nods to what each section will be, it doesn’t help the user to digest the key information as effectively as including the key points in the heading.
Take Miro’s case studies for example. Instead of just staying problem, they say "The problem: Teams planned in multiple tools, risking misalignment". This gives the reader, even those just scanning, the headline of what that section is about and its key takeaway.
Call out key information and stats
It’s sad but true that most people landing on a case study won’t read the beautifully written content in depth. Like with the headings, most people scan key information that pops out.
But don't fret! Use this knowledge to your advantage and incorporate eye-catching elements to present details in an eye-catching way to ensure the user leaves with the key points in mind.
Zendesk, for example, pulls out some impressive stats in their case study before diving into the content. This acts as a handy TL;DR for someone doing a quick browse of your site.
Keep your focus on the customer
Ultimately, your case studies are a way to back up all the wonderful points you make on the rest of your site.
Just like a CV is just to get you the interview, the case study is just one part of securing a new customer, so you don't need to use the space to keep selling.
Instead, tell your customer's story. This packs much more of a punch than listing off your features and benefits yourself. Highlight their success and outcomes from working with you or using your product.
Don't forget to highlight how your product or offering solved the customer's problem in a way your competitor couldn't. Show off what makes you unique.
And don't forget that case studies are a bit of a win-win, social proof and content for you, backlinks and exposure for your client. So don't forget to include introductory information about your wonderful customer and include backlinks.
Make it personal
Chances are when creating your case study, you interviewed your customer. So be sure to refer to them by name in your content (with their permission of course!) and even use their picture beside their quotes and testimonials if you can.
People trust faces, so let your customers do the talking for you through their quotes as much as possible and if you have the bandwidth, take the extra step and create a video case study. These are famously valuable and effective, albeit hard to come by.
Be specific, include use cases and product features leveraged
Time to get down to brass tacks. Avoid being too abstract in how you describe your product, call out the particular features your customer has leveraged for success. Talk about how they used these features without falling into the trap of labouring some sales copy.
Take HiBob for example, they highlight the specific tools and integrations adopted by their customer in a handy sidebar callout, reinforcing the product value in clear terms.
Get creative with it
While you always want to make sure you're covering the classic problem-solution-results in your case studies, have a think about how you can jazz things up and make them a bit more unique.
Miro, for example, includes links to templates created by their customers in case studies and has even gone to the effort of getting custom photography of the team using Miro in meetings. This is a very smart way to hammer home how genuine the story is.