Case studies – ten ways to use them

Case studies for marketing. Here’s a quick article to suggest ways to use those valuable customer stories. The first customer in a new market sector is an ideal candidate for a case study. Ideally your case study library will contain examples from every sector of your customer base. They can be anywhere from 200 to 1,000 words depending upon how and where they will be used – long enough to convey the details, but short enough to be an easy read.

Some market sectors like long detailed stories, others prefer them short and punchy, but the trend is to allow for a shorter attention span, particularly online.

For a website, your case study needs to grab attention as a visitor skims your site. Most companies have a preferred style for their case studies and work to that.

Based on my experience with many clients, here is my list of ten ways to use a case study, starting with the most obvious then moving on to the less obvious:

Case studies for marketing
  1. Number one  has to be Content Marketing – for leads generation. It is simple to display a brief version of the story on your website, and collect the email addresses of the visitors downloading the full story.
  2. Use the customer story in a PR campaign. Interesting stories about well-known organisations and forays into new technology are often suitable for  news and features.
  3. Email marketing – refer to the customer story in an email message, and  use a link to track “opens” and measure engagement. An automation system such as HubSpot streamlines this process.
  4.  A new case study could be a great topic for a user group meeting.
  5. A ground-breaking case study is a brilliant topic for a conference presentation or, at the moment, a webinar.
  6. Present the story in other ways. Make a video or a podcast interview for posting and sharing.
  7. I have seen technical case studies being used very successfully for training sales people and channel partners.
  8. Why not enter a customer success story for an industry award?
  9. Add case studies to tender submissions to add credibility to a bid for a major contract.
  10. And when we get back to the office, why not use glossy photos of customers to create a display in reception and brighten up the walls for your non customer-facing team members. That can mean a lot to those employees who never get to go out on site.

Contact me to talk about your case study programme, how to approach a  customer for a case study, the format and writing, and how to gain approval to publish the story. / phone 020 8275 9955


Content marketing for leads

Content marketing is high priority for technology businesses. This means that the resources and budget that are allocated to content marketing are growing.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a form of marketing where you aim to meet prospective customers by posting the content they are looking for on your website. It is a key part of digital marketing for many businesses as it brings new contacts by organic search. That is to say it brings new contacts from people searching on the internet. This means that the “content” you publish should answer the questions your prospective customers are currently asking.   The content can be text, images, info-graphics, video or podcasts, However most of content is simply text. This is probably because it is the easiest and least expensive to create. Video comes second because people seem to love viewing video.

Case studies are very popular for content marketing, especially for technology companies. They are useful for marketing any high value product or service as a success story should encourage more buyers to go ahead and purchase the same solution.

A story or article for content marketing should be unique, i.e. it should not be available anywhere else on the Internet. This is another reason for choosing customer case studies, they belong to your company, and are ideal material to use.

However, companies use other forms of written content as well. “How To” articles and guides to best practice are popular too. News items and comments on industry news are also good. A new piece of research, presented as a report, can work well, because it contains information that is genuinely valuable to the reader.

Whatever the content, it needs to work effectively for search engines as well as human readers. This means that the writer should write with an awareness of the SEO goals, or the text may be edited later to be more suitable for search engines.

While this sounds easy, businesses often find it hard to create enough content that is good enough to use.  It should contain something that people really want to read if it is to work well.

One way to achieve this is to take an editorial approach as editors are used to writing for their readers and understand what makes a good read.

Working to a content plan or content strategy will help.  A content plan will ensure that the writing keeps to the right topics, and that it covers the areas people are interested in. The best content can be often case studies, as mentioned before, or it can be an article based on new research or an interview with a subject expert.

Finally it should be written to a high standard which reflects your company’s brand and values.

Content marketing takes more effort than people realise, but when it is done well, it becomes a very useful source of new contacts. However, when you compare content marketing with other ways of gaining new contacts, such as attending a trade show or staging a marketing campaign, these also come with significant costs. It is not surprising then that if content marketing is to be effective, it is unlikely to be easy or free.