Case studies: 7 steps to success

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Case studies are one of the most effective content marketing tactics, according to surveys by the Content Marketing Institute. But how do you get the most out of them? Here’s the definitive guide to making case studies work for you.

As a content marketer, you know case studies are a highly effective marketing tool. Just ask the Content Marketing Institute if you’re not sure.

Why do they work? Because they offer vital social proof which your buyers need to see to trust your product or service.

Yet for most marketing teams, publishing and writing case studies is a challenge. 

It can mean managing hard-to-please interviewees, dealing with sign-off delays, and – in the wrong hands – ending up with sloppy copy.

But with the right planning, case studies needn’t be complex. 

My 7-step guide makes things easier, so you can crack through your content, show the value you provide, and help your business grow.


To get started, plan your case study portfolio

Before cracking on with your next case study, take a moment. Step back and think: why are we creating case studies at all?

The answer, in the ideal world, is to have a case study for every eventuality. If a client approaches you, you need a case study that shows how you help that type of client, in exactly the way they want. That way, you can make sales.

Of course, it’s impossible to have a perfect case study for every occasion. But it is possible to create a selection of case studies to cover the typical ways in which you help your clients.

In other words, you need a portfolio.

Plan in terms of your portfolio – not individual case studies

Of course, if you’re going to create a portfolio, you need to plan what it looks like at the portfolio level.

Many marketers don’t do this. They consider each case study as a separate project.

It’s easy to imagine how this can happen. The head of sales might have a great relationship with a client, and will come to the marketing team enthusiastically saying: “We should do a case study about this – it will be great.”

It might well be great. But to make it great, you need a clear vision of where it fits into your marketing.

So before you do anything else, sit down, grab a piece of paper and sketch – in words or images or whatever works for you – what your ideal case study portfolio might look like.

Questions to ask yourself

Try to answer the following:

  • What, in your view, is the main point of doing case studies?
  • How do you hope they will help potential clients to evaluate you?
  • What would you like a case study home page to look like on the web?
  • What case study formats would you ideally have available? PDF? Web? If web, should it be video or just text?
  • Which clients, products and product benefits do you want to include in the case study mix?

Don’t worry if, at this stage, things look a little sketchy. This isn’t your final plan – just a starting point from which to work.

Now, map client projects to the benefits you’re selling

Yes, we’re still in Step 1 here. But bear with me: this tip is worth it.

When planning case studies, it’s tempting to just jot down the biggest, most impressive-sounding client names we can, alongside the latest and whizziest projects we’ve worked on.

That’s understandable – after all, we all want big names and whiz-bang projects on our portfolio, because it shows we have clout. But clout is just one of many selling points for a business.

So to bring some balance into your case study planning, it’s time to get beyond clout – and start planning case studies around the benefits you offer your clients, at a brand or product level. 

After all, we know the mantra of “sell the benefits” – the idea that as marketers, we need to persuade people of the benefits of doing business with us, not (just) products or features.

Making a map of the benefits

To start, divide a piece of paper into columns – or pull up a spreadsheet – and note down the following:

  • In Column 1, jot down the main benefits your brand sells itself on. (This should be simple – if it’s not, you have more challenges than writing case studies.)
  • In Column 2, fill in the name of a client project that matches each benefit – consulting your account managers or client services team if you need to.
  • And in Column 3, try to write down why each client matches each benefit; in other words, how you helped them.

What should start to emerge is the bones of a case study content plan. Every entry in Column 3, in particular, is the seed of a story focused on an authentic product or brand benefit.

This doesn’t take much effort, but it’s already far better than throwing money at case studies without an idea of what each client is likely to say.

Prioritise your stories

As a result of the last step, you should now be armed with a list of possible case studies to use for your business – with a taster of the stories you might end up telling.

Finally (for this step) think about which of these stories are most important to your business – based on the main benefits you’re selling.

To do this, try to rank the case studies in priority order. Use criteria such as:

  • The importance of the benefit you’re selling in each case study
  • The likely availability of the client and the impact they have on your market
  • Any dates in the diary that make a case study time-sensitive.

Armed with a priority list like this, you could decide which case studies to create in the next few months; which ones to schedule for the next budget year; and which case studies to invest more heavily in, whether that means photoshoots or extended content.

Summary of Step 1

In summary, I recommend that you:

  • Plan your case studies as a portfolio
  • Come up with a case study idea for each benefit you’re selling
  • Rank these ideas by priority.

That’s a great start. So let’s move on and apply something every content marketing project needs: focus. 


Focus your case study messaging

“Sell the benefits.” So says the old adage of B2B marketing – and it’s an admirable marketing goal if ever there was one. In a world awash with tech features and buzzwords, taking time to explain how a product actually helps can only be a good thing.

That’s partly why, in Step 1 of this guide, I argue that it’s a great idea to plan your case study portfolio around product and brand benefits. Do that, and sales, marketing and product teams will all be on the same page.

But commissioning great case studies isn’t only about planning; it’s about execution.

And too often, the benefit-led messages in the case studies we create get lost.

Often, it’s precisely because we want to ‘sell the benefits’ that we start cramming in too many benefits into a case study, making it hard for a prospective client to see what the main selling points actually are.

A disciplined approach can help avoid that trap. Here are a few guidelines.

The golden rule: one case study, one main benefit

I get it. I really do. Your product has so many amazing benefits that you want to cram them into every piece of content you create.

Trouble is, busy buyers don’t have time to read or watch case studies that overdo the detail. No matter how techie they are, they want a simple, well organised story that’s coherent and easy to understand.

That’s why I recommend planning every case study you create around a single, primary product benefit.

So if, for example, you’re planning a case study about “ease of use”, you need to make sure that each of your main content elements – headline, summary, intro para, pullquote, image – focuses, in its own way, on that central message.

When it comes to briefing a copywriter, this message is also the key piece of information that will help them write a focused, effective piece.

That’s not to say you can’t mention less important benefits later in your case study. Of course you can – just plan to put it further down in the body text, which readers can get to when they have more time.

The almost-golden rule: one case study, one interviewee

This one comes from experience. As a case study copywriter, I’ve written a few case studies where the marketer has suggested interviewing more than one person in an organisation, at different times. With the benefit of hindsight, this is rarely a good idea.

In theory, it’s possible to create a case study that focuses on the experiences of many people at one or more businesses, then weave them into copy that retains its focus on the benefit you want to sell.

In practice, it’s stretching the limits of the format.

Putting it simply, conducting multiple interviews often means inviting too many competing perspectives into the story. This can blur focus – and often leads to the nightmare of endless revision rounds.

Add into the mix the complication of achieving sign-off from multiple stakeholders at the same time, and you’re on to a loser.

If you can’t avoid interviewing multiple people from the same organisation, at least arrange to interview them all at the same time. That way, a single, focused narrative should start to emerge.

A rule for most case studies: keep them short

If you’re doing things right, rule three is a consequence of following rules one and two.

Focus on one interviewee and one benefit, and – with the right copywriter on board – you should be able to create a case study that does the job in 700–800 words or even less. That’s roughly two pages, if you’re publishing your case study in PDF. Not a lot. But enough.

Add that copy to a 30-second video on your case study web page, and you would have a potent case study marketing mix.

Of course, the right copywriter will also help you use short words and short paragraphs to express complex themes – which also helps keep wordcount down and retain the focus you need.

Summary of Step 2

In summary, to help keep a case study simple, I recommend the following tactics:

  • Focus on one benefit
  • Focus on one interviewee
  • Keep it down to two pages if you can.

Let’s move on.


Plan your content design

As a marketing team, how much effort do you put into creating a template for your technology case studies? If your answer is “We leave it to our designers”, think again.

Ultimately, planning case study content – from web pages to print templates – is just like any other content: to tell customer stories in the most effective way, you need to think about how it interacts with design.

So, before creating your first case studies, it’s worth giving attention to the case study formats you want to use, to help make your customer stories shine. Try these tips.

Treat ‘standard’ case study templates with caution

Walking around a B2B expo, you get to see a lot of case studies. Some of them tell great customer stories – giving clients the info they need to evaluate a business.

Others, though, follow a more ‘painting by numbers’ approach to case study design – as if they’ve been pulled from a standard template off the web. These, it has to be said, aren’t exactly the cream of the crop.

It’s as if, at some point in the mists of time, the deities of marketing mediocrity issued the following decree:

Decree #24g. All marketing case studies shall henceforth be structured according to the headings “Background”, “Solution” and “Benefit”. No other headings or content elements shall be deemed acceptable. In exceptional circumstances the word “Challenge” may be substituted for the word “Background” …

There’s method in the madness, of course. The standard Background–Solution–Benefit case study format has its uses. But using it blindly comes with risks. So try to avoid writing to a template because “that’s how it’s always done”.

A common error in B2B case study copywriting, for example, is to kick off the case study with boilerplate “background” information about the company you’re featuring – and neglecting to pitch the piece to the reader you want to reach.

Case study templates: how not do it

Let’s use an example. Imagine Lucy is a COO in the market for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software – and wants to know how your ERP solution helps her. So what will she do if she sees a case study starts like this?

Case study: AutoWidgets Inc.

BackgroundAutoWidgets Inc is a world-leading supplier of industrial widgets to the global automotive market, employing 90,000 people in 17 countries and shipping more than 200,000,000 widgets annually …

I’ll tell you what Lucy will do. She’ll lose the will to carry on reading your case study, and her head will hit her desk before you’ve even mentioned your technology – let alone understood what the benefits of using your technology were.

This kind of mistake happens because the marketing team has copied a standard case study format, without thinking about how to make it relevant and engaging for the reader. Don’t let it happen to you.

Instead, choose content formats which suit your business

When you’re planning case studies for your organisation, the question isn’t whether you intend to use a traditional Background–Solution–Benefit format.

Instead, the question is: how will you deploy content elements in a case study to best suit the company you are and the benefits you’re trying to sell?

To inform this, remember that In Step 1 of this guide, I advised you to focus each case study on a single benefit. So when you’re working on a case study template, what you’re actually doing is exploring ways to bring out each benefit as clearly as you can.

Usually, that means you need input not just from the designer, but from your copywriter or case study writer too.

Working with content elements

For further ideas, have a look online for examples of case study design that you think might work for you. Along the way, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Headlines. Should they be long and SEO-driven, or short, witty and snappy? What suits your brand?
  • Standfirst/summary. The “standfirst” is the overview paragraph that your copywriter adds beneath your headline and before the body copy. Do you need one? Is it catered for in the draft design?
  • Boxouts. Can you use boxouts to focus attention on the main benefits you want to sell?
  • Subheads. Does your design cater for longer, richer subheads that are more than just one word long?
  • Chunking. Most case studies are “chunked” into a Challenge–Solution–Benefit structure, but is this even necessary for you? Is there a case for magazine-style interview story, perhaps combined with a photoshoot, which tells your customer story with more body copy and less hard sell? It might work at a slightly higher stage of the marketing funnel.
  • Benefits. Above all – how (a) persuasive and (b) engaging is each case study you come across, when it comes to selling the benefits of the product or service you’re marketing?

Summary of Step 3

I recommend that you:

  • Treat case study templates with caution
  • Instead, choose formats which suit your business.

Simple. If you do this, you’ll realise that if you’re planning a case study portfolio, you have many options. You don’t have to follow the same case study templates your competitors are using, or be led by the first sample template a designer shows you.


Get case study interviewees to take part

What’s the most scary thing about organising a case study? For most marketers, it’s not the content planning, the selection of the copywriter, or the briefing process – vital elements though these are.

No: it’s the fact that you need a favour from the one person you most want to keep on the right side of: your client.

And clients, by reputation, are the scariest business beasts around.

But there’s no need to be intimidated by the job of getting a client to take part in a case study.

In fact, it’s possible that your client, like the spider on your kitchen wall, is more scared than you.

So as a marketer, it’s time to take control of the case study process – and make the act of taking part in a case study as pain-free for your client as you can. Try these tips.

Triple-check that the client is willing

First, there’s a classic pitfall to avoid when it comes to case studies: the case study interviewee who was never properly qualified, and never wanted to be involved.

Picture the scene. You send out an email to the client relations team asking for names of people who’d be willing to take part in the case study; the sales team responds by giving you a list. At that point, you assume this is a qualified list, and you start planning.

What follows is a kind of ‘groupthink’ about the client’s keenness to take part. The client is on your list, so they must been properly qualified – right? Well, not always.

So when your writer or journalist first approaches your client to arrange an interview, it might turn out that the client has no idea what is going on and wasn’t expecting an approach.

Sure, they might have mumbled something in a pub once, but to be honest, this call has come out of the blue. “Autowidgets Incorporated, you say – remind me who they are?” Embarrassment all round.

To avoid this, check again with sales or client relations that they have spoken with the interviewee about taking part in a case study, and the client has confirmed that they are happy to be approached by a marketer or writer.

Be a source of info for the client

Thankfully, many clients are happy to be involved in marketing case studies. But the client isn’t a content expert. So they are bound to have questions about what to expect.

As the marketer, it’s your job to be that source of info, at least in the earliest stages of the process. So, when you have clearance to approach the client, you need to have prepared the answers to a few basic questions they may have.

At this point, there are at least four things your client needs to know:

  1. The purpose of the case study, so they can understand the line of questioning to expect. You won’t have interview questions yet, but you can promise to send them when you have them.
  2. Their level of commitment. With a written case study, you’re asking them not only to take part in a phone call with an external writer, but also to be available for follow-up queries and to check that the result is accurate. In total, this could take a few hours of their time. And if you want them to provide images, now’s the time to ask.
  3. Reassurance that they will have the chance to check the final content, at least insofar as it relates to them. This should help allay any fears about sign-off.
  4. Clarity about how their information will be shared. Typically, you’ll be sharing their name, phone number, job title and email address with an external writer or journalist. The interviewee will be need to be comfortable with this.

There will, of course, be more detailed queries such as the precise timetable, the precise interview questions, and the precise window in which you will require approval of your copywriter’s drafts.

Usually, you’ll only be able to answer these more detailed queries once you’ve selected a copywriter.

Summary of Step 4

To wrap things up, I recommend that you:

  • Check (and triple-check) that your client wants to take part in the case study
  • Be in a position to answer your client’s questions about taking part.

If that’s all sorted, now it’s time to work with a writer.

Work with a copywriter

Building business relationships with suppliers is one of the hardest parts of being a marketer. After all, you can’t be an expert in everything – and content creation, as you know, requires specialist skills.

So when it comes to producing case studies, do you go with an experienced freelancer? Do you pay your design agency to find one for you? Do you take the risk of finding a junior writer who can be persuaded to join your payroll?

There are no right answers to these questions. But in my experience, professional writers often have a certain independent streak about them.

They – dare I say, we – are often inquisitive people whose creativity and questioning nature places them slightly outside the corporate world. As a result, you’ll often find good copywriters operating as freelancers or within micro-agencies of their own.

And when it comes to B2B case studies, of course, you’ll need more than just a creative wordsmith. You’ll also need someone who can take control of the case study process, understand its limits, and execute the brief you supply.

To start working with the right writer for you, I suggest the following steps.

Make a shortlist of copywriters

Choosing the right case study copywriter can be a personal thing. In the first instance, I suggest pulling up a spreadsheet, doing some research, and making a shortlist of suppliers you think are capable of creating the case studies you need.

Ultimately, you’re looking for people with the following attributes:

  • The ability to handle your content. Normally, writers don’t need specific knowledge of a sector in order to write well about it. Writing is, after all, a highly transferable skill. But the writer will need the intelligence to understand your product and the empathy to understand how it can help your client – which adds up to a loose familiarity with the world in which you work.
  • Ability to manage the case study process. A good case study writer will have not only solid interviewing skills – perhaps honed as a journalist – but also knowledge of the case study process from content planning to sign-off.
  • Ability to meet your marketing goals. Does the writer’s website focus on their own writing skills – or on the needs of you, the marketing client? The more it focuses on your needs, the better.

Ring round the top two or three

Once you’ve made a shortlist of suppliers, it’s tempting to save time by emailing everyone – but when it comes to evaluating people, ultimately you need to get on the phone.

By calling a writer directly, you can very quickly get a sense of their keenness to work with you. Ultimately, good copywriting depends on a writer’s empathy and curiosity, combined with a trusted relationship between writer and marketer.

So at this stage, you’re looking for someone who you can imagine working with, and who is engaged by the challenge you have.

Don’t be surprised if a writer can’t give you a price at this stage, as that will depend on the next step: the clarity of your brief.

Create the best brief you can

Creating a clear, written brief is one of the keys to producing successful content – and getting good writers to work with you.

Think about it from the writer’s point of view. If you have two clients who want to work with you on a project, one of whom has clear, written brief, and the other of whom is still forming ideas in their head, which would you want to work with? And to which would you offer the better price?

So how do you create a good brief? The good news is that, if you’ve followed the steps in this guide so far, creating your case study brief should be relatively straightforward.

If you’ve worked through this page, all you’ll need to do when briefing your writer is to add essential context about you as an organisation – including info about your target clients and how you meet their needs, along with your marketing goals.

On receiving a brief, most writers will be happy to send you a formal proposal for the job, which should include a price, a summary of agreed deliverables, and an overview of their terms.

Armed with this, you can now review the proposals on a like-for-like basis – and choose a writer.

Summary of Step 5

In short, to find a case study copywriter you’re happy with, I recommend:

  • Making a shortlist and ringing round the top two or three
  • Creating a brief from which a writer can quote, based on the planning you’ve done so far.

Time to move on the interview stage.


Make the case study interview a success

As a marketer, assigning a project to a writer or journalist can be a strange moment. On the one hand, there’s the temptation to sit back and regard the job as nearly done; after all, the creative team is now chiefly responsible for the process until copy sign-off. 

But on the other hand, there’s that nagging sense of loss of control. Until now, the project has been your baby. Will your writer or agency understand what you want and get it right?

The best response to these natural fears is to go back to first principles. Yes, the creatives are leading the process from here. But as the client, you still have a role to play.

One of the best ways you can be of use is to assist a writer in making sure that the interview itself is a success. Here are a few tips.

Make yourself available for a kick-off call

For all but the simplest case studies, I recommend you have a kick-off call with your writer, to confirm details and plan how the client interview will go.

This pre-interview call can be incredibly useful for bringing out into the open any issues before the client is on the call.

During a pre-interview call, a copywriter or journalist will want to explore your relationship with your interviewee as you see it.

For example, what will be the best line of questioning? What ‘proof points’ might your client be happy to provide in order to support how you helped them?

At this stage in the process, any insight you may have about the interviewee’s business culture and receptiveness to questioning might also be useful.

The kick-off call is also a chance to confirm specific details. By the end of the call, you should have all the following points covered:

  • A plan for sending interview advance questions to the client, if possible
  • A sense of the writer’s immediate availability
  • A target timetable for revisions
  • Key contact details for the writer. 

With that in mind, you can get on with the critical next step: arranging an interview with your client.

Let the creatives run the interview

Broadly, there are two schools of thought on whether a marketer should ‘sit in’ on a case study interview.

Many people believe a writer or journalist should be left to get on with it, independently of you. This allows the writer and interviewee to talk freely, on a one-on-one basis, and it tends to lead to good results. Note, however, that in this scenario, you typically won’t get to see the transcript of the interview; only the written-up case study.

A few marketers, however, reason that your being present on the call (a) gives you the chance to clarify anything that only you can know the answer to, and (b) helps give you wider insight into how a client thinks – which can be useful. 

Clearly, there’s no requirement to be present at a case study call. But if you do decide to sit in, bear in mind that your presence alters the dynamic of the call. The following guidance should be useful:

Sit back and let the conversation flow

As you sit in on interviews, you’ll notice that different writers will have different interviewing styles.

Experienced writers, for example, will usually be happy to diverge from the ‘set’ question structure in order to dig deep on a topic of interest – or, conversely, may use silence in order to encourage an interviewee to talk.

As a marketer, it’s a good idea to trust the copywriter to lead the call, but feel free to ask an extra question at the end if you think something vital has been missed.

Be prepared for a change in angle

Sometimes, for all your planning, it turns out that the interviewee’s story is different from what you expected it to be.

Perhaps, for example, you decided to plan a case study around the flexibility of the service you provided, but the interviewee, while generally positive, starts complaining about your inflexibility instead.

In this scenario, a good copywriter will usually adapt questions on the fly to cover a range of other business benefits which may make a good angle instead. After the call, the copywriter will then work with you to confirm a revised angle.

Be sensitive about numbers

When it comes to case studies, interviewees are often happy to talk openly about most things; but on the subject of numbers, they may well become coy.

Of course, case studies are better if you can quote hard numbers. But how many of us would be comfortable revealing confidential business data for another company’s content marketing?

Given this, when it comes to asking interviewees for figures that illustrate the benefit you want to show, be aware that your copywriter may be treading lightly.

Often, the best plan is often to enlist the interviewee as an ally – and ask them what stats they would be comfortable disclosing that might support the case you’re trying to make. A good case study interviewer may ask this as a matter of course.

Summary of Step 6

To sum up, I recommend that you:

  • Make yourself available for a kick-off call before the interview
  • Generally speaking, let the creatives run the interview itself.

With an interview for a written case study complete, it’s now up to the writer to create a first draft or of a case study that fits the brief. It’s time to sit back and wait – until the sign-off process begins. 


Negotiate sign-off

At this stage of the case study process, you’re so near, yet so far. You’ve commissioned an expert copywriter, paid them to write a case study, on brief – but now you need to run it past your client.

Will all go well, or will they throw a spanner into the works at this late stage?

The main thing to remember about getting interviewee sign-off is that it’s a process you don’t control. While most of the time it runs smoothly, interviewees can and do backtrack, change their minds and cause delays. 

When this happens, all you can do about it is smile, chase politely, and keep being helpful and constructive – while keeping a clear sense of your own goals.

Here a couple of tips to help avoid problems, so the sign-off process goes as smoothly as it can.

Set limits when asking for sign-off

The first step when getting sign-off from a client is to be clear about what you’re asking them to do, and when – which means setting boundaries on the sign-off process as far as you can. 

Yes, your client needs to be able to approve what you write about them – that’s only fair, and if you’ve got anything wrong, you want to know. But you don’t want them to misinterpret this as an invitation to treat the content as if it were their own.

To this end, the email you send when asking for feedback should be a masterclass in tact. The idea is to thank the client profusely (and no doubt genuinely) for their time – while reminding them of your own goals. This sets context for the feedback they provide.

Then, when you invite feedback, it can help to direct attention to what you want them to focus on – namely, anything you might have got wrong or messaging which makes them uncomfortable. With luck, they will then focus on this rather than on minor points of style which are dictated by brand guidelines anyway.

Finally, try to set a deadline by which time you’d like the feedback back. This may seem a bit pushy if it comes at short notice, but it will be more reasonable if you’ve flagged it in advance.

Pick your battles if you can

Ultimately, of course, this is the real world – and sometimes sign-off gets tricky. At these moments, you need to stay sanguine, and pick your battles.

Of course, if the client starts rewriting your copywriter’s finely crafted content in stodgy corporate-speak, you can’t allow it into the final draft. With the help of your copywriter, you should be able to find a way of reframing it, so it still meets your content goals.

Often, the interviewee is trying to make a minor point and the stodgy writing is just their way of expressing it. In this case, all that’s needed may be a quick call (perhaps led by the copywriter) to get to the bottom of the issue.

Most of the time, a good creative team will be able to find a way through.

Summary of Step 7

In summary, I recommend:

  • Setting limits when you ask for sign-off
  • Picking your battles when things get tricky.

The extra step: keep on keeping on

Be honest: what did you think I was going to say at the end of this guide? That case studies are a one-off project, and that you can do them once, print them off and put them in a drawer – and after that everything is going to be OK?

No such luck. Like all content marketing, a case study portfolio is something you need to keep coming back to. But follow these tips and you should be fine.

Play the case studies numbers game

Remember what we said at the start of this guide about the value of treating case studies as a portfolio? 

That’s important because, as with other types of portfolio, there’ll be winners and losers – and you need to play the numbers game to succeed.

The reality is: not all case studies work out. An interviewee might change jobs, back out, prove unreliable, or be unsuitable in some other unpredictable way – and if this happens, there’s often not much you can do except take losses and move on.

Let’s say, for example, that, you start with eight candidates for a case study. It may well be that, of those, only six agree to take part; and, of these, only five become completed case studies at the end of the line. All things considered, that’s a fair result.

This means that you need to be realistic, to start with, about how much you can achieve with case studies over the short term. As with most content marketing, case studies are most effective over time.

Conversely, once they’ve been live for a while, it may be that older case studies become irrelevant or stale. At this point, you’ll need to trim your portfolio and replace the case study with something fresh.

If case studies work, consider incentives

If case studies are working for you, congratulations. They’re a vital stage in the content marketing funnel – and despite their challenges, probably easier to manage in the long run than a social media account.

But because case studies are one-off content elements that involve client contact and co-operation across departments, they can take a little longer than other forms of content to get off the ground. So sometimes it takes a little extra incentive to get people moving.

For this reason, it may be worth rewarding teams who make case studies happen, for example with an employee incentive. This won’t suit every organisation – but if it takes an incentive to get a client services team to pre-qualify an interviewee for the marketing team, this may be a route worth following.

Be clear, though, that it takes a team effort to make a case study a success; you don’t want to create “silos” where one department receives an incentive and the other does not.

Promote, promote, promote

Finally, what use is a brilliant marketing case study if no one reads it? Frankly, not a lot.

So if you’ve built a great online case study, for example, don’t neglect it: promote it just as you would with any other piece of content. Tweet it, add it to email footers, link to it in any client-focused comms, trail it from your website home page – anything to show off the great work you’ve done.

Remember: a copywriter can help you to promote your case study content by providing the promotional micro-content you need.

This could range from writing social media posts to creating on-page SEO content – particularly a meta title and description – so your case study shows up properly in search engine results.

One tactic, for example, is to pick out key quotes to use as testimonials on the home page of your site – which link back to your main case study web page when potential clients click.

Summary of the extra step
Finally, I recommend that you:

  • Play the numbers game
  • Consider incentives
  • Promote your case studies as you do your other content.

So that’s it. What advice would you give to a tech marketer or product manager who’s starting out creating a set of case studies? By all means get in touch.