Effective Case Studies: Best Practices, Part 1
Best practices for creating effective case studies include careful consideration and selection/articulation of the content, format, presentation, organization, and use of different forms of media, among other things. Three best practices for creating effective case studies have been discussed below.
Make It Relatable
- Case studies that customers find relatable are more likely to perform better as opposed to the ones that customers cannot relate to. This can be done by identifying the ideal customer to target for a given case study. If a case study is relatable, the customer that reads it will feel that the provider is proficient in the relevant area.
- Making a case study relatable starts at the planning phase, even before selecting a case. It is achieved by targeting the right customer segment and clearly defining the goals.
- Once the target customer segment and goals have been defined, a relevant case that suits both should be selected to prepare a case study.
- Finally, the case study should be designed such that it is relatable to the defined goals and target customers. One way to achieve this is to focus on the customer rather than focusing too much on the product. This develops customer confidence in the brand/product, as they are able to relate to the case presented in the case study.
Select the Right Media and Format
- It should be kept in mind that viewers/readers have varying preferences of media and format when it comes to case studies. It is, therefore, best to design case studies that attract all types of visitors.
- Case studies may be designed using text, audio, video, and/or infographics. While some formats are easy to share, others are easy to digest, e.g. bullet points.
- An ideal case study would, therefore, include both text and visuals. This can be achieved by creating text-based case studies and also making a video out of it, however, care should be taken to ensure that the text is not directly copy-pasted in the video or vice-versa.
- It would also benefit to "repurpose" case studies into different formats, for sharing purposes. For example, a text-based case study can be converted into an infographic, a SlideShare presentation, a press release, and other formats, and then shared across multiple platforms.
Offer Specifics in the Case Study
- Case studies should be very specific and offer valuable information to readers/viewers. Case studies that are vague are likely to make the readers feel like something is being purposely hidden from them, which should be avoided at all costs.
- This can be achieved by citing data and specific improvements, e.g. increased sales/productivity.
- This is also a chance to showcase the products leveraged to solve that particular problem. This can be done by mentioning the products/services that helped the customer mentioned in the case study and the way they helped them.
- The facts/statistics mentioned in the case study should be relevant to the problem solved, the solution provided, and the results.
- An example of a vague explanation is to say, "our online marketing services led to these results". Whereas a well-articulated explanation for the same notion would be, "it was a combination of a three-month dedicated social media campaign focusing on Facebook & YouTube and five months of link building that led to an increase in rankings plus brand exposure that led to these results."
Our research turned up some useful results and several best practices for creating effective case studies. Although the best practices relate to a diverse set of attributes, we have selected those that focus on some of the most important areas and their potential impact on the effectiveness of the case study is considerable. In order to ascertain that the best practices selected are indeed best practices, we consulted several credible sources that have some authority in this space. Each case study presented in this research has turned up in at least three credible sources.