Case studies stand for authentic, genuine user examples – an important aspect in B2B. Read here what you need to keep in mind for a case study, which goals you can achieve and what successful examples look like.
What are case studies?
A case study uses concrete examples to show how an external company has solved a problem with the help of a product or a service from one’s own company. It does not focus on the products or services which contributed to solving the problem, but instead focuses on the customer. After all, other companies who read the case study should be able to identify with the example. In other words, a case study is a concrete user report from the viewpoint of a customer who has already successfully leveraged the product or service of a company.
Why a case studies make a difference in B2B
In principle, case studies can be used by nearly all companies whose products or services are successful and who cannot describe what they do in a single sentence. The effort invested in a case study is particularly worthwhile for companies whose offering requires a high level of explanation due to its complexity – and this is often the case in the B2B segment. Such tailored and practice-centric information reinforce a potential customer’s trust in the competence of a company and the way it works.
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No other measure – except for in-person events – is so well suited for generating leads.
All in all, 69 per cent of companies which leverage content marketing fall back on case studies, according to the B2B Content Marketing Report 2020 from the Content Marketing Institute. And no other measure – except for in-person events to which potential interested customers have been directly invited – is so well suited for generating leads; in other words, closing a business deal.
The main reason: case studies stand for authenticity. The example customer is believed more than the conventional showcase of product benefits on the part of the company. The problems solved in the end may have certainly posed difficulties – which makes the case study even more credible, compared to if everything ran smoothly. Case studies as stories of success also have a high potential for going viral in the B2B scene, as they are often shared among colleagues or as press releases. Journalistically written case studies are also happily published by specialist media on top of this.
How to correctly structure a case study
Please consider the following points which aim to help you prepare and generate a case study:
- Don’t go over the top with your case study. As noted in the Content Preferences Survey Report 2019 from Demand Gen, 68 per cent of the B2B decision-makers questioned spend 20 minutes at the most reading a case study, with half of the survey’s participants spending just a maximum of 10 minutes.
- When generating a case study, consider in which the phase of the customer journey you want the customer to read it. In the awareness phase, case studies serve as orientation. They provide an insight into the technology and the latest trends in its application. In the decision-making and purchasing phases, case studies can be used to show which benefits were actually achieved by a solution.
- Take a step back and let your customers speak. To achieve this, make an interview appointment with an employee who has intensively worked with your product or service. Since that which he sees as being important is something other potential customers may also find as being relevant to them. Save the product perspective for the conclusion, where a call to action leads to your solution.
- When it comes to your case study, don’t include too many specialist details concerning the concrete application, as only a few experts may understand them. Instead, concentrate first and foremost on the strategic use of your offering which can convince the decision-maker.
- Begin your case study with an overview containing the most important facts. Then, introduce the example customer and his problem, one which can ideally be transferred to many other companies. Afterwards, describe how your product or service precisely helped him from the customer’s point of view. And, finally, the customer should illustrate which concrete benefits his company gained by the collaboration.
- The success at the end of the case study is ideally underscored with figures. What did the customer precisely gain by using your product or service? The percentage of the increased number of leads, sales or cost savings is a rounded-out closing to a case study. Above all, technically-affine target groups expect concrete results in the form of hard facts.
Case studies: three examples of success
1. NOVEXX Solutions
The industrial systems provider NOVEXX Solutions generated a case study on the topic of “Identification of roll cages”. This case study highlighted how one of the Netherland’s largest retailers profited from an innovative labelling solution for identifying roll cages in distribution centres. The solution used by the customer up to that time was very time-consuming and required cleaning chemicals. Thanks to the new labelling, the labels could be easily removed from the roll cages without leaving any traces, which also resulted in a significantly longer lifespan of the roll cages without any repairs. With this case study, NOVEXX Solutions won the AIM Case Study Award 2017.
The hardware and software provider BlackBerry has already published dozens of case studies, including one for the contractor Max Bögl. The case study, in cooperation with Pioneer Communications, shows how the company faced challenges with the BlackBerry solution in the areas of safety, data protection and productivity. A telephone interview served as the basis, with a contact person from the area “IT Collaboration – Mobile Device Management”. In addition to its placement on the BlackBerry website, the case study particularly appeared in specialist media for the construction industry. This publication contributed to achieving a high reach.
3. Lindner Hotels
Another approach was chosen by Lindner-Hotels AG with their case study on the topic of “Digital Recruiting”. In this case study, new paths to searching for suitable talents was recorded based on the company personally, such as video applications, recruiting castings or a portal for career-changers. The goal: to highlight the hotel group as an attractive employer. Another means are statistics which emphasise a high employee satisfaction rate as well as low fluctuation and apprenticeship dropout rates.