Let Your Work Speak for Itself: The Undeniable Value of Case Studies as Business Tools

In today’s oversaturated market, how do you make your company stand out from the crowd? Eighty-eight percent of B2B marketers currently focus on content marketing as a way to drive business. But all content is not created equal.

While social media, advertising, infographics, videos and blog posts are all written from the perspective of your business, case studies establish legitimacy by relying on the perspective of your customers. Case studies take more time and work than the average blog post, but the potential benefits can be much greater.

The 2016 B2B Content Report from the Content Marketing Institute ranks case studies as the third most effective type of content marketing, falling only behind in-person events and webinars. Case studies, when leveraged properly, are an especially effective tool for B2B tech startups.

Clients face high stakes when it comes to finding and purchasing tech solutions for their business, as tech products are often expensive and time-consuming to implement and manage. Additionally, because clients are often seeking out tech solutions to solve problems regarding highly sensitive data, choosing an effective solution the first time around is paramount.

Here are a few reasons why case studies can be one of your strongest marketing tools as a B2B tech provider and how to leverage them to their fullest potential.

Case studies tell stories about your brand

While your website and other marketing collateral may tell potential customers what you do, case studies tell them how and why your business can benefit them. They’re more effective in creating conversions than statistics or product details alone for a few reasons.

Case studies employ real customer experiences to explain how your product or service can be implemented. They paint a visual story that makes your business easier to remember. Once potential customers can visualize exactly how your product has solved real problems for a real company, they can more easily begin to envision how your business could tangibly help them solve their own problems.

Decision makers rely on examples

Well-written case studies draw readers into a narrative, and the supporting statistics you use to make your case can be the turning point for decision-makers in giving you their business. According to a study from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, nearly two out of three B2B buyers (62%) search for content to learn about new market developments, and 60% search for content to find new solutions to address specific business needs.

Any tech startup can claim to have the most innovative product on the market or be the “number one choice” when it comes to a service. When you can provide palpable and specific details of how your service positively impacted a client, you are providing indisputable, real-world, and both qualitative and quantitative evidence that your business is legitimate and effective.

Social proof is powerful

When was the last time you bought something online without at least glancing at the overall customer rating score? You’re not alone in wanting a bit of third-party authentication — 78% of Americans say online product reviews help them decide whether they should make a purchase.

Think of case studies as well-structured, pre-approved customer reviews. Potential clients expect to hear you boasting about your own business; it’s much more persuasive to hear positive reviews and quotes from real clients, even if in truth you wrote the case study yourself.

At Dreamtown Creative, we often write case studies for clients of all sizes but notice they sometimes go underutilized. Don’t just stick case studies on your resources page and forget about them; maximize their power by referencing them across various mediums online and offline.

1. Pull powerful quotes to use in print and online collateral. A good case study includes at least a few illustrative and supportive quotes from your customer. These quotes can be repurposed for use on your website, email drip campaigns or ads. You could also create a video version of the case study.

2. Include them on relevant product pages. As stated earlier, case studies provide value in a similar manner to customer reviews. By placing case studies on relevant product pages, you may find potential customers refer to these as they would customer reviews and receive that extra final push to convert.

3. Use them to engage your audience on social media, or in webinars or newsletters. Like customer quotes, stats and stories from case studies make for great content that can be shared with your audience in multiple situations. Newsletters and social media are great places to share narratives in order to engage online audiences. Case studies also are great backbones to webinars, in which you can use them as support in how to solve or achieve certain business goals.

4. Incorporate them into your sales strategy. Too often, there is a lack of cohesion between a company’s marketing and sales strategies. Creating a unified strategy is especially important for less-established startups in order to appear trustworthy and legitimate. Train your sales team on properly utilizing the information in your case studies to make a strong pitch to future clients.

Read Our Guest Column for Kapost

By Amanda Farmer, Dreamtown Strategic Director

Dreamtown-guest-blog-for-Kapost

If you’ve ever turned to our benevolent overlord the Internet for marketing advice, chances are you’ve landed on a Kapost article. As a platform for content marketers, Kapost really practices what it preaches, running a highly strategic, consistent, quality content program that gives it excellent pagerank for most content-related searches.

Being a content writer and strategist myself, I was certainly aware enough of Kapost to feel flattered when its editorial team asked me to become a guest contributor to their blog, The Marketeer.

We started with a series of posts centered around frequently searched content marketing definitions and will be tackling some more in-depth issues in the coming weeks, including how B2B tech marketers can more effectively market to IT teams.

Until then, take a look at some of my recent contributions. Enjoy!

 

On content marketing:

The Content Audit: What Horrors Await?

Ask someone to perform a content audit, and it sounds pretty straightforward. Sit down to actually perform a content audit, and you’ll find yourself in a circle of hell that Dante dared not speak of. I exaggerate. But barely. You’ll be challenged by a number of beasts during your journey through Content Audit Hell, which always begins in the Valley of Inventory. The first beast you’ll meet, fittingly, has no specific name. We’ll call him “Ambiguity.” Read more

 

Content marketing definitions:

Content Strategy

You may think that writing a blog post on the definition of a self-explanatory term like “content strategy” is just an SEO ploy. Well… ok, you’re partly right. But before you get all smarty-pants smug, let me ask you a question. Does your company have a documented content strategy? Not an editorial calendar—a content strategy. Read more

Content Marketing Workflow

Are you one of those people who loves making lists? As a child, did you buy fresh notebooks and flip through the pages, inhaling the scent, before finally committing that first, perfect stroke in glossy ink, tingling in anticipation over the moment you’d later cross through it with a single, straight line? You sound like kind of a weird kid. Were your parents worried? Read more

Editorial Calendars for Brand Publishers

For centuries before the idea of “brands as publishers” came along and gave a generation of marketing writers renewed job security, traditional publishers used editorial calendars, or ed cals, to plan upcoming stories and help advertisers choose their insertion schedules. That hasn’t changed, but today, brands have co-opted the editorial calendar, in name and essence, as a way to plan and manage their content marketing programs. Read more

Content Production

Because the vast majority of any content marketing program relates to research, strategy, and analysis, some might call content production the “fun” part. It is, after all, the point in the process when your uptight, left-brained strategists finally unleash a horde of neurotic, right-brained creatives to turn your plan into reality. (Sometimes the same person is responsible for both strategy and production—take it from me, you don’t want to hear the conversations going on in that head.) Read more

Production Analytics

I’ve always loved mindless tasks. I remember the day a supervisor at my first job decided she’d reward me for good creative work by taking away all the mindless, entry-level tasks I’d been responsible for—reports, restocking paper, you name it. It was hard to hide my disappointment. Read more

Dessert Content

Content masters create campaigns the same way master chefs create multi-course meals. They think of each course as part of a journey through distinctive but thematically unified experiences. (Now re-read that in Anthony Bourdain’s voice. Much cooler, right? Feel free to have him narrate the rest of this post.) Read more

Content Pillar

You might have never heard the term before, but if you’re running a content marketing program, chances are you’ve worked with content pillars in the past. A content pillar is simply an in-depth piece of content, such as an eBook, whitepaper, video, or research report, that can be broken out into many smaller assets, such as blog posts, infographics, and emails. Read more

Microblog

If this is your first time hearing the word “microblog,” I know exactly what you’re thinking. [meme: What is this? A blog for ANTS?!] Common misconception. Read more