Courting new clients can be one of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of agency or freelance work. But there’s one tool that can help ease and expedite that process: showcasing your work through case studies. Case studies are the most trusted form of marketing content according to 60% of clients, customers, and consumers, far surpassing visual content (34%) or blog posts (31%) according to a recent survey conducted by Marketing research firm Ascend2.
With case studies, you have the chance to demonstrate your skills and emphasize the outcomes of your work. In effect, you’re drawing a line between your work and the results, whether that’s measured in terms of engagement, revenue or another impact. And what you get is instant credibility. It’s like being vouched for — not with a testimonial or recommendation, but with examples and evidence.
Still, it’s important to present this evidence in a way that’s appealing and memorable to your prospective clients, ensuring that they both take the time to look at it and keep it in mind as they shop around.
Here’s how to write a case study that will help you attract new clients and grow your business.
What is a case study?
A case study in marketing is an in-depth example of how a product or service has helped past clients. It usually explains the process in detail from start to finish and shows measurable results.
A case study is normally laid out as follows:
Visuals are often included showcasing the product or service, and the results are usually displayed in a graph or other illustration. When successfully executed, the result is a story that lets prospective clients imagine what it would be like to work with you and convinces them you’re the best match for their needs.
What is the purpose of a case study for marketing?
Case studies are powerful tools for those looking to grow their business by attracting new clients, especially in the B2B space. When a business is shopping around for a marketing agency, a set of compelling case studies on hand can ultimately be the deciding factor in choosing one agency partner over another.
Unlike standalone samples that show off top-tier work, a great case study incorporates storytelling, allowing prospects to see how your agency is different in terms of the quality of your work and your processes. And for marketers who are performance-driven, it offers a glimpse at potential outcomes and ROI.
A case study can be a particularly important tool for individuals who are fielding agencies. When you give them strong reasons to put you at the top of the stack, it makes their jobs easier, and it makes them look good, too.
How to write a good case study
First, you’ll want to identify 1) who your audience is and 2) what you’re trying to demonstrate before choosing the right client and project to feature in a case study.
Next, gather all of the background on the project that you’ll need in order to paint a compelling picture. Now, it’s easy enough to start plugging the information at hand into your case study outline.
A case study can be made up largely of images or video, but typically, they also contain a few hundred to a few thousand words of text. Your needs might vary; you know your business and your audience best. The most important thing to consider is how to attract and hold your potential client’s attention. Remember: No one wants to spend valuable time consuming overly long, self-important reports.
Therefore, case studies should be no more than a few pages in length and should contain some visual elements (like photos or charts) to break up the text. They’re usually sectioned off for easier reading — and though the headers of each section might vary, they should align roughly with the elements below.
Here are the four essential parts to include when writing a case study:
1. Introduce the client or customer
Case studies always start with an introduction to the client or customer. The reader of the case study will want to understand if this example is directly relatable to their company and business needs. That doesn’t mean that the client featured in your case study needs to be identical to the prospective client who’s reading it, but they might have a few things in common, such as size, industry or budget. An engaging headline and intro serve as a useful “hook,” which makes the reader want to keep reading.
2. Explain the project’s objectives
Why did the case study’s client or customer approach you? They likely had a problem they needed to solve or a goal they were hoping to achieve. Further details, such as aspirations and challenges, that inform how the project developed could be introduced here.
3. Describe your product or service
This is where you’ll explain how you created the final product or carried out your service in order to solve the client’s problem or meet their goals. Be sure to explain your rationale: Why was this the right product or service for them in particular, at this time? Include your process step by step.
4. Report the results
Finally, you have the chance to share the data that backs up why your instincts were correct. Here are some questions to address in this section:
Why did you choose these KPIs?
What process was used to measure the results?
What length of time was assessed?
Were there any other unexpected positive outcomes?
Help the reader stay engaged with graphics and charts. Tie the results back to the original objectives in order to paint the greater story arc. A testimonial from the client about their experience and results can be a great way to close.
[Related: How to generate leads in Wix Marketplace]
Pro tips for writing a good case study
Following the steps outlined above can help you create a compelling case study, but there are a few additional tips to keep in mind that will take your work to the next level and can help your case study stand out from others that follow this standard recipe.
1. Make your client the hero of the story
It’s important that your prospective clients can see themselves in your case studies. Therefore, they shouldn’t be all about your work and how great your team is, which is likely to come across as promotional. (Besides, in a well-written case study, those elements will shine through anyway.) The hero of the story is your client: What drove them to find you in the first place? How did they feel once they realized you were successfully helping them resolve their original challenge? This is the heart of good storytelling. Explain the experience from their point of view.
2. Customize your case studies
As with all client engagement and marketing efforts, it’s important to understand your audience. This way, you can be sure to share case studies that address all of their questions, concerns, hopes and needs. (This might ultimately entail creating a small suite of case studies to resonate with your various lead types.) For example, if you’re targeting mom-and-pop shops, you might lose them with a case study featuring a huge global corporation.
3. Rely on eye-catching visuals and strong writing
Don’t forget the importance of eye-catching graphic elements and well-crafted copy. These aspects are vital to a solid case study — and what sets it apart from a dry and boring business report. Draw in your audience first, then drive your message home. Think of this as yet another chance to show off your skills.
4. Add concrete data and relevant metrics
As stated earlier, it’s not only important to showcase your awesome skills — it’s imperative to prove the results of that work. The more you can lean on measurable metrics to showcase how your work benefited previous clients and campaigns, the more obvious it will be that you’re the best choice as a business and creative partner.
Time to write a case study
Take some time to analyze some case study templates or examples online. See if you can dig up any case studies by other agencies in your niche, taking note of how you could take things up a notch or differentiate yourself from them. After all, just as with any marketing collateral, the goal isn’t to look like everyone else but to showcase what makes your brand unique.