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Make Room for Case Studies in your Content Toolbox

While content marketing remains a valuable component of B2B marketing, many marketers realize not all content marketing tactics are created equal or deliver the same results. In addition, today’s marketers are under much more scrutiny to ensure their tactics are not only insightful and resourceful, but also deliver strong ROI. As marketers search for the ‘unicorn’ tactic, one that often gets overlooked is the case study.

Mention the word “case study” and you are sure to hear some people groan. Why? Most people want to know: Is the case study still relevant or useful? And secondly, good luck getting a customer to participate! Well, I am here to argue in favor of the case study and encourage you to include case studies, in some way, shape or form, in your upcoming marketing plans.

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing 2016: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends  North America report, 65% of B2B marketers stated that case studies are still effective. In fact, respondents said case studies were more effective than whitepapers, blogs, infographics and many other popular marketing tactics. So why do case studies get a bad reputation and why can they be so challenging? Perhaps, all we need to do is rethink how a case study is created and even what a case study could be.

Giving the Case Study a Makeover
What makes a case study successful? In short, the case study demonstrates your company’s success at solving a customer challenge by including third party validation. But case studies of the past tended to follow a vanilla-format and had little creativity. While case studies are still incredibly important, have you considered changing the overall look and layout of your case studies? What is important in a case study is to highlight the customer’s problem and how your company provided the solution. But to get those two points across, consider using some new case study formats.

Types of Case Studies
Many times case studies can take weeks or months to develop. Depending on the data you’re using, where you’re gathering the information from and how you’re putting it together, creating a valuable case study can be an extremely work-intensive process. If you are looking for a new and fresh way to create a case study, consider these updated ideas:

Q&A Format Case Study
Have you considered a more straight-forward Q&A format? They can be quicker and easier to produce. CDW Healthcare and Holy Redeemer Health System: This CDW Healthcare Q&A PeerView tells the story of a customer’s success with their own words.

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Video Case Study
Video is a very popular way to present marketing content. Marketo and GE Healthcare: At 2 minutes 25 seconds, this upbeat video is short and sweet, but tells a great business story about GE Healthcare’s partnership with Marketo.
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Traditional or Long Form Case Study
Still interested in using the traditional case study format? LinkedIn and CSC: This format can be effective, but consider breaking up the case study layout with some fresh design elements and including only the most impactful copy. Add in more pictures, graphics or just break-up the copy into small sections. Don’t be afraid to make it beautiful.
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Quick tips for approaching your next case study:

  • Include the most important details. Give a high level summary of about the client, the challenge that was being faced and the how that challenge was overcome.
  • Make the content and messaging succinct.
  • Take a risk, try a new case study format and measure it against others to compare and contrast results.

Once you have the case study created and approved, don’t just stop there. Make sure they are located on your home page and/or are easy to find. Better yet, include case studies in blog posts, on social media and make sure sales is using them in their email marketing. Last but not least, don’t forget about how your case study will appear on mobile devices. More and more sales contacts are working from their mobile devices. So it’s important to review how your case study appears on a mobile device.

Want to chat about a great case study that stands out in your mind? Let us know in the comments or connect with us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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Author: Heidi Murphy, Senior Account Manager, Outlook Marketing Services

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