Key Elements Of Case Study Design

More than 67% of respondents in a recent survey indicated that online reviews impact their purchasing decisions in some way, shape or form. While online reviews can help tell a part of story for your organization, a case study can help tell your audience an entire success story (start to game-changing) of one of your customers using your products or services.

A great case study can help solidify to your audience that you’ve been there and done that for similar types of organizations and would love to bring them in on the action. Ever looked at an organization’s website and checked out their case studies or testimonials pages on their website and before filling out a form or giving them a call? These are great pieces of collateral that can show immediate impact to the audience you connect with and can be used in a number of ways throughout the course of your marketing and sales efforts.

When you are looking to put together your next case study (or looking to revamp some of your older ones), take these 4 essential elements into consideration:

1. Showcase the Problems You Answered

The customer has come to you with a problem or need for you to solve and you knocked it out of the water! What exactly were those problems that you were able to solve? Better yet, do those problems match in line with what your ideal customers and personas are experiencing?

Your customers are looking to take their efforts to the next level. By showcasing that you are able to solve similar problems they are facing can create an immediate impact on your audience and establish an early degree of trust.

2. Tell The Story of Your Customers’ Experience

Now that we know the problems the customer was having before partnering with you, let’s nail down the story throughout their entire experience. Let your audience know the “white-glove” approach they’ll be experiencing once they’ve agreed to use you to solve their problems.

Nothing is off the table here! Give a quick background and overview to your customer and go through the problems they were experiencing. While walking through those past issues, showcase some of the concerns the customer had prior to getting started, like giving up ownership of particular pieces of its business or the cost to return to highlight to your audience potential similar occurrences.

Here are a couple of example questions to get the story started:

  • What was the customer looking to solve when partnering with you?
  • What were the needs of the customer that you were able to provide?

Let’s put these questions together and bring it all together with the all encompassing question you want your audience to see solved.“How did you solve their problems and what did you do to get there?”

Next, start to lay the entire foundation of the process. Don’t be afraid to get into the details of this and really show off what your business does differently from others.

Something to also consider is showing where your customer is looking to go after their initial needs are solved and that you are along for the ride on helping them reach these goals. Your moments with your customers doesn’t end at the point of sale or at the end of an engagement, but can (and should continue) with them based on the experience you have provided.

3. Let’s See Some Results!

The story is lined up and you are showing how everything fell into place, but in order for this to have a happy ending for both your customers and your audience, you need the results to back it up.

The key here is to be as specific as possible with your results. Let those results shine and give your audience a glimpse into what they can potentially see from partnering with your organization.

Also, don’t be afraid to go the exact recommendations, strategy or tools you were able to provide to the customer to reach their goals. Your audience doesn’t just want to see that you can “double their revenue”, but they want to know the hows and what it takes to get there.

Take a marketing agency for example. All of them will tell you that they can increase your traffic, leads or customers, but what sets them apart from the other marketing agencies? It could go back to online reviews or case studies with companies in relevant industries, but what it should go back to is how the organization was able to handle X problem in Y timeframe using Z strategy/tool/recommendations or a combination of all three.

By aligning your case studies to specific problems with results to back that up, you showcase to your audience that you’ve solved their issues before (and have done it to success).

4. Use In Multiple Formats

With having your now great case study at your fingertips, you now have the opportunity to re-purpose this type of content to multiple formats across your website, blog and other various verticals.

Let’s start with your website and blog. Here’s a few quick tips to getting you started:

  • Make sure your header speaks to the problem you were able to solve
  • Show those results and give a brief snippet to the tool, strategy or recommendation you were able to accomplish
  • Use bullet points to point out key findings within the story and grab some quotes from your conversation with the customer to highlight
  • Create some calls to action on the sidebar or footer of your related blog content

There are also many other great places to showcase your next case study. Have a great quote to share? Showcase that within your sales collateral or event materials (including your booths and product sheets). Have the resources to use video during your customer conversations? Send these out through your social channels to give your audience a face and a voice to the results you are bringing to them.

How is your audience viewing content now? Look at those metrics and find what’s most successful and capitalize on those options for your next great case study.

What are some of your favorite case study examples?

If you have a compelling product or an interesting service, you may grab the attention of a potential customer or a respected journalist. However, what do you do when they ask: “Can you tell me about someone who is actually using this?”

You can have the world’s greatest product, but if you can’t show how customers are using it and benefitting from the results, you don’t have much ground to stand on. Rarely do potential customers – and especially engineers and scientists – want to be the first to use a new product, and journalists will tell you to call back when you have a customer example they can share with their readers.

When you have those key customers who are benefitting from what your product offers, write a case study about the customer’s experience. Your case study will help you tell others about your product through a real-world example that illustrates how it was implemented and the benefits your customer is realizing.

Here are eight tips to make your case study be a great sales tool for you:

1. Be choosy when possible

When you are selecting a case study to write, choose a customer who will tell your story well. Find a customer who has significant, quantifiable results in an application that is relevant to the most people that will show other potential customers the value of your product or service.

2. Get ready for the ask

As you’re helping your customer solve their application with your products or services, mention that you’d like to complete a case study of their finished project. You may even ask if you can include a case study in your sales contract during negotiations before the sale is closed. This is especially helpful in the negotiation phase when your customer is asking for a discount or “freebies” throw in; you can compromise by including a case study that benefits you.

Also make sure that you communicate the mutual benefit of a case study for you and for your customer. Often times, the case study will highlight the benefits of your products or services, but it will also help the customer showcase their success. By later putting the completed case study on your web site, you help improve the customer’s web presence and further their company name.

3. Do the work

If you want a case study that showcases the benefits of your products or services, you’ll need to write it yourself. By writing it yourself, you can easily include key messages that you’ve defined for your company.

Write an outline of your case study and then conduct an interview with your customer to fill in any gaps. Make sure you can articulate:

  • The problem your customer was trying to solve
  • Other solutions they considered before choosing to partner with your company
  • The new functionality or solution they now have because of your product.
  • The results they’ve seen as a result

4. Get to the specifics

Write your case study in a way that relates to other potential customers and shows a quantifiable result. This case study for NASDAQ shows Charles Schwab’s success after switching to the NASDAQ Exchange. Although the case study is about a financial institution, NASDAQ conveyed Schwab’s successes in a way that made them relatable to any publically-traded company, showing that with NASDAQ, Schwab received a superior market model, lower trading costs and listing fees, and greater liquidity.

NASDAQ also shows that Schwab investors will save $2.9 million because of the company’s switch. This quantifiable result quickly and easily shows a potential customer the value of NASDAQ’s services.


5. Provide compelling first-glance content

Use prominent content in your case study to catch a potential customer’s interest. In this case study, a headline with a quantifiable result quickly catches a potential customer’s attention and draws them in. A reader wants to know how a large, successful company saved $100,000 using social media, what their strategy was, and what tools they used to do it.


Draw readers in with quantifiable, results-focused headlines.

6. Make approval easy

After you draft your case study, you’ll want your customer to review it. When sending it for review, highlight specific areas for them to look at, and include all images or screen shots you want to use, so that you can get all of the content reviewed and approved at once.

In addition, draft a specific quote that they can review and approve so that you can use that quote and its attribution on your website, in a flyer, or in a news release in the future.

 7. Create a finished document

Make sure you have all the necessary elements for a compelling, effective case study. Elements you need, are well-written, customer approved content and additional images or graphics, laid out in a finished document that clearly communicates the customer’s challenge, solution, goals or key factors, implementation, and results.


Put together all of the content you’ve created to form a branded, finished document.

 8. Share, share, share

Lastly, share your success in all channels. Put the case study on your website, blog, share on social media accounts, and link back to your product or services pages. Bring it to sales meetings and include it in corporate slides. Write a news release around it and send it to relevant media, or put on the wire. Use your proven successes to generate new business.

Looking for additional insight? Check out our TREW Talks- Case Studies Slideshow

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