Picture this: a customer is looking to replace their email marketing software. As they evaluate different options, they look for products with features that suit their needs and preferences. Most importantly, they want proof that your product works.

You can tell the story yourself, but the problem is that 9 out of 10 customers won’t trust what you say about your brand. Instead, they want to hear from other customers who have used your product and reaped the benefits. This is where case studies come in handy. 

A case study gives skeptical customers evidence backed by data, numbers, and analysis. It’s an impactful direct endorsement from satisfied customers that tells others, “come buy this product: it enables me to achieve these results and will work for your business, too.” 

Where to Use Case Studies

Case studies are an important part of your content marketing strategy. Here are a few places you can feature your case studies to drive social proof and conversions:

  • Your website: 92% of potential customers look for social proof before making a purchase. Adding excerpts of your case studies on key web pages and on focused landing pages will improve conversions.
  • Nurture emails: If you have a case study about a feature or product a customer is looking to buy, send a targeted, nurture series featuring the case study. 
  • Sales and marketing team: When the customer is in the consideration stage, you can send them targeted case studies. Sales and marketing teams should also learn to use case studies at the right moments in the buyer’s journey.
  • Newsletters: Case studies are a great resource for your newsletter series, whether you’re looking to build new relationships or strengthen existing ones. 
  • Marketing videos: Making video case studies or testimonials helps potential customers see what your product can achieve from a third-party perspective and may convince them to buy. Actually, 2 out of 3 customers claim they’d make a purchase after watching a testimonial video. 
  • Blog posts: You could also use quotes from case studies to add credibility to information in your blog posts and articles. 

Identifying the Right Customers for Case Studies

Not all customer stories lend themselves well to case studies. For a case study to really woo your customers, it has to be authentic, believable, and captivating. 

When picking candidates for case studies, consider the following:

  • Company size: The size of the company that suits your case study comes down to what you want to achieve. If you want to add more SMBs to your customer base, then write a case study about a small business; and vice versa. 
  • The challenge: Evaluate your target audience and pinpoint the problem you want to solve. Then, identify the specific product feature that solves that problem. Lastly, search through your customer base and pick a customer that had a similar problem and used the same feature to solve it. Chances are, if you use that customer as a case study, the story will resonate with the target audience. 
  • The results: Remember, for the case study to have a significant impact, it has to showcase cold, hard data. For this reason, pick a customer with solid numbers to back up their anecdotal results. Gather direct quotes, as well, to spice up the case study and improve narrative flow. You’re telling a story, after all, so make it exciting!
  • Other things to consider include: pick a customer you’ve recently worked with, and ideally, one requiring minimal layers of approval. This way, your proposal to feature them in your case studies will get approval in time — and you won’t have to delay for months while you wait for legal to provide their stamp of approval.

Fundamental Case Study Questions to Ask in Your Interview

Asking your customers the right questions can make or break your case study. The questions you ask will vary depending on your industry and the angle of your case study, but here are some essential ones to start with:

  • How did you find out about us?
  • When did you start working with us?
  • What was the beginning of the engagement with our company like?
  • What problems were you looking to solve?
  • Did you evaluate our competitors or other solutions to your problem?
  • What made you decide to go with us?
  • How did our product/solution solve your problem?
  • Did you need any help using our product/solution, and how did you get help?
  • What are some of the main benefits of using our product/solution?
  • What are the three biggest things you love about our company? 
  • What would you say to other people considering us?

1: What’s Your Background?

Getting your customer’s backstory is a great way to set the stage and tone for your case study. It might even help steer your case study down a path you hadn’t considered before.  Better yet, these personal stories engage potential buyers, helping them to relate to your customer base.

2: How did you find out about us?

3: When did you start working with us?

4: What was the beginning of the engagement with our company like?

5: What Problem Were You Trying to Solve?

Every buyer is working to address a problem. Your case study should focus on one problem, so ask what problem the user was trying to solve. This question will give the reader (and you)  insight into how people perceive and use your product.

6: How Was The Problem Affecting You?

Most buying decisions are based on emotions rather than logic. Expand this question by asking how the problem was affecting impacting the customer’s bottom line, what difficulties it was causing and how it made the person feel. Ask open-ended questions and try to elicit emotional responses as much as possible.

7: What Possible Solutions Did You Consider?

There are always multiple ways to solve any problem. Those who read your case study will trust the testimonial more if they can see that the customer considered other solutions. Buyers always start with a list of options and then narrow down the list until they find the perfect fit.

8: Why Did You Choose Our Product or Service?

Case study readers will be interested in the decision-making process previous buyers have gone through. If they identify with the process, they are more likely to buy the same product.

9: What Would Have Happened If You Had NOT Made The Purchase?

Asking this question reiterates the original problem. Hopefully it’s the same one the reader is trying to solve. It emphasizes the consequences of postponing a purchase and increases the likelihood of the reader making the decision you want him or her to make.

10: What Risks Did You Consider?

Every decision has risks. If you ignore them they won’t go away, so you need to address each risk to reassure your prospective customer. This helps the reader to overcome their natural aversion to taking risks. Risk analysis has two main components; how likely it is, and how severe are the possible consequences.

You can reduce perceived risk by including a ludicrous over-the-top warranty that offers much more than the standard money-back guarantee everyone offers.

11: What Reservations Did You Have?

This is similar to risk analysis and gives you another way to find why people might not be buying from you. If one person has reservations, other buyers might have similar feelings and need to confront them before making a decision to purchase.

12: Did you need any help using our product/solution, and how did you get help?

Provide potential customers with a taste of what it’s like working with your company. Do you have 24/7 support? Personalized account management? Give your customer service and support a chance to shine.

13: What are some of the main benefits of using our product/solution?

14: What Measurable Benefits Have You Seen?

This question gives your case study respondent an opportunity to address the value in your product and to spell out exactly how it solved their problem. It is more convincing as the final question because readers can see the feedback is credible. Praise is more effective when it’s given after a detailed risk analysis and consideration of alternatives.

15: What are the three biggest things you love about our company? 

16: What would you say to other people considering us?

Bonus: Can You Provide Creative Assets?

Be sure to ask your customer for a headshot, company logo and other brand elements you can add to their case study to make it feel even more personal and authentic to your audience.

You know what you need and how your study needs to be structured. If you simply ask someone to give you feedback on a purchase, what you get is unstructured and rambling praise that lacks credibility. Structuring responses will save the respondents time and gives you something much more valuable.

Your best customers value your partnership and want to help you succeed. They will more than likely be happy to take part in a case study. All you need to do is to ask.