Case studies: Why bother?
Case studies are one of the most traditional forms of content and, like with most traditional things, there comes a time when people start to question their true value.
The new digital era that we now found ourselves in has taken content generation to a whole new level in recent years, with the likes of social media posts, blogging, memes, infographics and podcasts.
So, where does that leave the good old case study?
In precisely the same place, at the content table where it still belongs. Yes, it may be a tried-and-tested content medium, but it’s a medium that’s still valuable, perhaps more so than ever before.
These days, people don’t tend to commit to buying a new product or service without conducting their own online research first. According to Mashable, Google gets over 100 billion searches a month, while figures published by Retailing Today, show that 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchase decisions. And they’re just two of the many stats out there that show just how much people rely on doing their own digging around before making a decision.
So, back to case studies. Where do they fit in the whole equation? Very nicely, if you’re in the habit of regularly collecting them from your clients and they paint the full picture of the client’s pain points, the results you achieved and how you helped them overcome their challenges.
Case studies provide you with proof
Case studies provide you with proof. Proof of what your products and/services involve and more importantly, proof that your products and/services are worth investing in to people who may never have encountered you before. In the world of inbound marketing, case studies are classed as bottom of the funnel content pieces that help leads cross over that line and become customers.
Just think about the last thing you bought, whether that’s a new mobile or new car, I bet you did some form of research before you made a decision, didn’t you? You’re more likely to buy from a business who says their product is great for x, y and z reasons and then backs up their claims with one or two case studies, than a business who simply says their product is great and leaves it at that, aren’t you? I know I am.
Case studies present people with the full story
But the great thing about case studies is that they don’t just provide people with a snippet of insight into why they should choose you, like reviews and testimonials do. They provide people with the full story (providing you’ve not skimped on your information and focused on the sections I mentioned earlier in this blog). More importantly, they enable you to promote your products and/services without coming across as being too salesy or pushy.
As with most forms of content, case studies can be repurposed so that you can get more mileage from them. For instance, depending on how detailed they are and the media landscape, case studies can be used to gain coverage in trade titles (and potentially local and regional media, depending on the details of the case study and relevance). You can also use your case studies as a hook for social media content, turn them into Slideshare presentations or publish them on LinkedIn Pulse. You could even get them designed up as leave-behinds following new business meetings or pitches (obviously, you’d just need to make sure that the content is relevant to the company/person you’re leaving them with).
As tried-and-tested as case studies may be, there’s still plenty of mileage left in them yet, both in hard copy and online format. Hard copy versions can leave potential customers with a reminder of how they will benefit from your products and/services while online versions will help make sure you get found, as well as get chosen, by today’s generation of online researchers. Long live the case study.