Case studies are one of the most versatile lead generation tools that B2B businesses can leverage for business growth. These persuasive customer success stories are crafted to capture attention and drive action at multiple points of the marketing funnel. Case studies are especially valuable when used as sales and lead generation tools.
What is a Case Study?
Merriam-Webster defines a case study as “an intensive analysis of an individual unit (such as a person or community) stressing developmental factors in relation to environment.” For SaaS companies, case studies typically involve interviewing customers that have had success with your product or service.
So, it would make sense to say that a case study is essentially an intensive analysis of a customer – existing at a crossroads between the story of their business and how your solution helped them succeed – that explores the manner in which the product or service has made a beneficial impact on their environment.
Once created, they can be used across your entire company as sales enablement content, and as powerful lead generation tools to attract prospects and close deals. Case studies can also be used for:
Repurposing into blog and social media posts
Marketing material at conferences and trade shows
Inspiring your customer success team
Case Study Framework
The basic case study framework focuses on the before, during, and after of a customer’s journey with your company.
The Problem (Before)
The first part of the cast study framework is identifying the problem. What was the customer doing before they found your solution? What was going on in their business or life that made them seek out a solution like yours?
The Solution (During)
The second part of the case study framework is identifying the solution. This should focus on their decision to sign up for your solution, why they chose your solution over other options, and what it was like for them as they started to use your product.
The Results (After)
The final part of the case study framework is the results. This is the part where the customer gets to show off their success. Their hard numbers, their sales figures, the increase of new customers. Whatever success looks like for both them and your product – this is a chance for those statistics to shine and persuade new prospects to follow in their footsteps.
Case Study Success Metrics and Interview Quotes
While impressive success metrics do a lot of the hard work for you when using case studies as online lead generation tools, it’s also possible to create effective case studies with no success metrics at all. In the event that a customer doesn’t want to reveal their financial details or conversion statistics, using juicy quotes from your interview in place of success metrics can serve just as well for social proof.
The quotes that are the most effective in this situation should focus on the pain points of the customer. They should be specific about what exactly the product did (e.g. solving a certain problem, saving time, or being easy to integrate with apps that the customer already used).
Good quotes should also sum up the customer’s story without being too lengthy. Keep quotes to a couple of sentences at most, and if you need to – pull sentences from different parts of the interview to create a singular quote with more impact (just make sure the customer is okay with this first).
Think about quotes that:
Show how a customer has been able to grow or expand their business with your product
Demonstrate they’ve been able to save on admin time or cut costs
Reveal how the customer can do things since using your product that they weren’t able to do before
The customer should always be the hero of your case study. It’s this element that helps your prospects see themselves within the story.
How to Use Case Studies as Online Lead Generation Tools
Unlike most other pieces of content in your marketing toolbox, the lead generation power of case studies is one that’s measurable. 73% of B2B marketers use their customers’ stories to help with customer acquisition and to drive sales.
Creating Lead Generation Tools
The perfect place to present case studies to generate leads is on your home page. Different ways to present these to viewers can include:
Quotes and testimonials pulled from the main case study
Lead generation forms with the case study as a lead magnet
A call to action (CTA) that links to a case study, or your case studies page
Creating a dedicated page on your website helps visitors easily find, read, and download your case studies. Bundling your success stories like this helps you stack social proof and make your product look even better to prospects.
Social Media as an Online Lead Generation Tool
Social media sharing is another popular way to introduce your amazing case studies to a wider audience and generate leads. Include the relevant statistics and impressive success metrics if you have them, or to interview quotes if you don’t, encourage readers to click through.
Repurposing Case Studies
Case studies can be repurposed in many ways that provide additional long-term generation value. You can build blog articles around them, incorporate links to download your case studies within other relevant blog posts on your site, and even write guest blogs on authority sites using examples from your studies and linking directly to your dedicated case study landing page. E-books, guides, and templates can also be valuable online lead generation tools for leveraging downloads.
Case Studies Drive Sales
If you have a prospect that’s hesitant about purchasing, sharing a case study can often help them move past their objections and close the sale. According to Search Engine Land, 88% of customers look for social proof before making a purchasing decision, and a case study is just about as good as you can get for risk reduction.
Arming your sales team with case studies can help them provide more value on calls with prospects. It’s estimated that customers go through 70-90% of the buying journey before contacting a vendor, so having some convincing success stories about customers from similar industries and businesses can go a long way towards closing your deals.
Using a Case Study Video to Generate Leads
Using a case study video is one of the best methods of capturing your customer success stories. More engaging and more persuasive than text, a dynamic case study video means that your clients will retain more of the facts and figures that they’re seeing. If it’s a long case study, people are more likely to stick around to the end, unlike the boring walls of texts that some case studies have to offer.
Simply put, using case study video means you have a higher chance of increasing your conversions.
Tips for Creating a Case Study Video
Viewers retain 95% of the content they watch in a case study video. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because your case study is presented on video it’s going to solve your lead generation problems. There are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when creating effective case study videos.
Effective Case Study Video Do’s
Do have a clear idea of what you’re marketing, and how your product solves a problem for customers.
Do identify your most relevant customer segments (e.g. industry, country) and the best candidates for each segment to film for the case study to keep things relatable for your audience.
Do prepare a list of questions to steer the interview in the right direction. Open-ended questions are best. Make sure you’re taking the part of the active listener – let your customer tell their story!
Do make sure your static image (poster image) that’s on display as the lead-in for your case study looks sharp. Faces caught in mid-sentence, awkward poses, or just a generally boring image are all visual turn-offs for your leads that can cause friction in your lead generation efforts.
Effective Case Study Video Don’ts
Don’t focus on the features of your product. Make the benefits and value of your product to the customer’s business abundantly clear and address the before, during, and after phases in your case study video.
Don’t choose customers who aren’t compelling on camera. A screening process will ensure you find the right people to get the message across in your case study video.
Don’t forget to edit!
Don’t hide your case study videos away. Promote, share, and make them easily downloadable to get the best results from your (and your customers’) hard work.
Case Studies Are Powerful Online Lead Generation Tools for Startups; Use Them!
If you haven’t tried leveraging case studies as online lead generation tools or to close deals, then you’re missing out. Having case study downloads available on your website, landing pages, or on social media allows these client-driven customer success stories to do much of your heavy lifting. Use them to drive awareness, build trust, and encourage prospects to choose your products and services over the competition.