How do you harness the power of a B2B case study to increase sales leads?
Case studies, webinars, and in-person events are the most successful marketing tactics used by B2B businesses. Are you surprised?
After all, what better ways are there for prospects to get to know you? With these marketing tactics, they can better understand your expertise through success stories using case studies, teaching moments via webinars and real-life connections during in-person events.
But let’s talk specifically about case studies.
According to a 2018 article in Harvard Business Review:
“Which type of content routinely outperforms others in terms of completion rate? The tried and true case study is, by far, the content that prospects complete more than others. In our data, case studies have an 83% completion rate — orders of magnitude higher than other sales and marketing content provided during the buying journey.”
But why are they so powerful? What can they do for your sales and marketing teams?
What is a B2B Case Study?
A case study is content which is typically created by a company’s marketing department for use as a sales & marketing tool. Developed as a web page, document or video, it tells the story of a customer’s challenge or objective, how they approached the situation, the solution your company provided, and the successful results of your partnership.
And stories are definitely worth telling. Jennifer Aaker, Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business, says: “stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.”
The Value of Case Studies
But why are case studies so beneficial for you and your prospects? Quite simply, it’s because they do a lot of the heavy lifting before a potential customer contacts your sales team. Case studies warm them up and allow them to see how you can solve their problems.
A key reason is availability. Case studies are (ideally, easily found) on your website and always available whenever a potential customer is in the mood to investigate your product or service – even at 2 a.m.!
Case studies tell your story and provide proof of success – even when your sales team is not available. But while this is true, many companies have challenges developing and writing case studies.
Challenges of Creating B2B Case Studies
There are several reasons marketing and sales departments have a hard time writing customer case studies. But the two overriding reasons are they require investments of both time and manpower from your company – as well as your customer.
- Manpower. Case studies require staff resources. Producing a case study means tapping into your sales and customer service teams to identify ideal customer success stories – and arranging time to talk with their customer contacts. What you need are customers excited and willing to share why & how your product or service changed their work environment.
- Time is everyone’s most valuable resource – and case studies require a significant amount to do them right. Your customer must be willing to devote some time to chatting with one of your team members tasked with gathering the information needed to create the case study. They’ll also need to review the finished case study and approve it for publication.
If your team is small, you likely don’t have time to sit down and interview your customers. (A freelance marketing writer can help you here.)
An Additional Challenge for Science or Technology-drive Companies
And, in the case of life science, technology or manufacturing businesses which depend on proprietary technologies, methods or discoveries, there is a third challenge creating case studies. The presence of non-disclosure agreements can prevent you from mentioning key details – impacting your ability to share your successes.
- Gag Order on Information. In many industries (including life sciences, pharma and manufacturing) your company may either be barred from discussing details of an engagement with your customer or you may need to negotiate the information you can disclose.It can be difficult to develop an informative study while avoiding sharing sensitive data or information. The good news is there are ways to write compelling B2B case studies while preserving the non-disclosure agreement you have in place with your customer.
By overcoming these challenges, you can create a well-written case study and gain an invaluable B2B marketing tool.
How to Increase the Quality of Sales Leads with Case Studies
All businesses need to explain what they do, and why what they do is better than their competitors, right? It shows your prospects that your brand is reliable, trustworthy, and delivers real value.
One way of demonstrating this is by using your existing client base to illustrate how your business has helped them. Today’s business buyers value customer opinions. I can’t stress this enough! Publishing case studies not only validates your solution and resulting ROI but also generates leads for your company.
Using real-life examples of what you do and how you help other businesses provides your sales prospects with clear business cases and results. Case studies that deliver transparent real-world stories help prospects see how another company experiencing a similar situation solved their problems using your product or service.
You need to remember that your prospects are shifting from a B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer) attitude to an H2H (human to human) approach. This means that even the slowest-to-change B2B sectors (e.g., pharma or industrial manufacturing) are focusing on what your product or services can do for them to:
- make work easier
- conserve resources
- improve margins or profitability
- increase productivity.
A case study provides a way for your prospects to identify with the solutions you offer. By engaging with your content, prospects become warmer sales leads.
While relationships have always been the bedrock of B2B sales (and will continue to remain critically important), Forester states that 59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep and that 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.
Today’s business buyers are moving themselves along their buyer’s journey. They are relying more frequently on the use of peer reviews and online content research to make buying decisions.
B2B case studies provide solid sales and marketing benefits.
How to Write a Successful B2B Case Study
Now that you know what good case studies mean to sales efforts, how do you develop and write a case study?
Your potential leads want to know:
- who you’ve worked with
- what you did
- how it helped
- what the results were for your customer.
Regardless of the type of case study – whether you choose a highlight or summary format or story or article format – case studies typically follow a simple formula:
Are you ready to dive in and create a case study?
If you’re not quite sure where to start, here are the 7 steps to writing a successful B2B case study.
Step 1: Find a Customer Story to Share.
Reach out to your sales and customer services departments to identify a successful customer story – one that shows a clear challenge you solved with quantifiable results. Be sure to obtain customer approval to create & share the case study.
Step 2: Define the Customer.
It’s time to set the stage. Begin writing the case study with an overview of the customer. You’ll want to talk about who they are and what they do. Include their industry, company name (if possible), and their business goals.
Step 3: Identify the Challenge.
Next, you’ll explore the challenges or problems your customer was experiencing. Take your reader through the pain points. What business goals weren’t being met? What caused your customer to look for a solution? What would have happened if a solution wasn’t found?
Remember to use clear, concise and simple language. Decision-making executives prefer easily-digestible content – so be sure to avoid corporate-speak.
Step 4: Explain the Buying Process.
Walk through your customer’s research and buying process. Share information such as:
- how the customer started the research process to find you,
- what the decision-making process entailed,
- who was involved in the process,
- what other solutions the customer either tried or thought about,
- what they found to be the most important benefits and features you offer – as well as the value that set your product or service ahead of the competition.
Step 5: Describe the Implementation of Your Product or Service.
Detail what happened after the customer purchased your product or service. Explain how your team worked with your customer to understand the details of their needs, who was involved in the implementation, what your team implemented, how long it took, and whether your work met (or exceeded) customer expectations. This part of the story showcases your expertise in the industry.
Step 6: Share The Results.
The final section of the case study is arguably the most critical section since you’ll be discussing the outcomes and results. This is where your prospects learn what the ROI of your product or service could be for them. Some of what you might cover here includes:
- what the outcome was for the customer
- which (if any) feature the customer relies on most
- who is using the solution and what they are experiencing as a result of this solution.
You’ll want to cover the specifics of both intangible results and the quantifiable, measurable results the customer experienced after implementation. Be sure to address how you’ve helped the customer – is their productivity increasing or have they saved money?
Step 7: Use Your Customer’s Words.
Include one or more quotes or testimonials from the customer. Social proof is invaluable and the quickest way to stay in a prospect’s mind. When a peer provides their thoughts about your company, product or service, potential customers take note. Include multiple quotes from your customer throughout the case study you write.
Are You Ready to Improve the Quality of Sales Leads?
In today’s business world, no one will just take your word for it that what your company does actually works.
Case studies are a powerful illustration of what your company can do – allowing prospects to visualize success with your product or service. They want to hear it from your clients. Prospects want to understand the ROI you created for your customers – especially customers whose circumstances may be similar to their own.
If your B2B business isn’t using case studies yet to build trust and confidence with customers & prospects, now is the time to start.
If you need a hand creating engaging case studies, give us a call. We’ll help you share your success stories and increase sales leads.