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For years, technology buyers have consistently ranked case studies among the most consumed and influential forms of marketing content.1

And they remain highly influential today.

Recent research by the Content Marketing Institute found that two-thirds of the marketers they surveyed used the tactic. What’s more, 36% of them got their best content marketing results from case studies.2 That last figure ranked equal to video—a rapidly growing tactic—and higher than long-form articles, podcasts and other audio content, infographics, live streaming, and print content.

Unfortunately, what many marketers don’t realize is that case studies are also among the most versatile and powerful forms of content when it comes to content reuse. They add punch to your other content by providing something important your prospects are looking for—third-party proof that your solutions are effective.

Here are eight ways to harness the full power of your customer success stories by leveraging them in your other marketing content.

1. Highlight case studies on your website.

B2B buyers land on your website when they’re looking for the types of products and services you offer. But they’re looking for more than feature and benefit information. As I just mentioned, they’re also looking for proof that your offerings can really do what you say they can do.

There’s no better way to offer that proof than letting them hear from satisfied customers.

So, make sure your case studies are easy to find.

Don’t just post them on a “downloads” or “resources” page. Don’t bury them so deeply that visitors need to resort to your site map or search facility to find them. Offer your prospects multiple paths that will lead them directly to the customer stories that interest them most.

Feature a recent case study on your home page. You might ask your webmaster to set up a display that brings up a different case study each time the visitor clicks to a new page or returns to a given page. You can do the same on your product pages with stories relevant to the featured product. In both cases, be sure to provide a link where the visitor can find more case studies, in case the featured story doesn’t match the visitor’s interests.

If you have a large library of case studies, consider adding “Success Stories” or “Case Studies” as a tab on your main navigation menu. Make it a visible menu tab, not an entry in a drop-down menu.

Organize your case studies to help prospects easily find stories that match their own situation. Provide search and filtering capabilities – perhaps a drop-down from the aforementioned menu tab – to allow visitors to search for stories by product, general solution type, industry, or even geography… whatever is relevant to the nature of your business.

Many companies struggle with the question of whether to require registration or allow free access to their case studies. Years ago, I used to recommend registration for full-length case studies, but later my feelings changed. Now, I recommend NOT gating case studies. After all, case studies are third-party proof of how well your product or service performs for customers. Why would you want to put an obstacle in front of getting such stories into your prospects’ hands?

Still, there are exceptions to the rule. An exceptionally strong customer story with lots of solid problem-solving information can generate a lot of leads, as one I wrote did for one of my clients last year. In such cases, though, be gentle. Request only as much contact information as you need for follow-up, and provide a short summary prior to registration. Give prospects a good idea of what they’re getting before presenting them with a registration form. The combination of an engaging summary and a short sign-up form will maximize your conversion rate.

2. Enhance SEO with case studies

Any content you add to your website can be used to improve your search engine rankings. Case studies are no different.

In fact, case studies can be one of the best types of content for attracting search engine attention.

Keyword phrases are the currency of SEO. If well-written, your case studies will probably contain several instances of keywords and phrases relevant to the product or service they feature.

That said, it doesn’t hurt to ask your writer to optimize for one or two selected phrases, or to go back and update existing stories with your target keywords.

Two additional tools for boosting rankings are links and meta tags.

Google puts a high value on links, so be sure to link back to your case studies from press releases, blog posts, and forum discussions that reference them. Encourage your customers to link to their success stories on your website.

Trade associations may also be willing to link to case studies relevant to their industry or allow you to place them in their blog or e-newsletter. Be sure to include links, so readers can download your PDF version.

Meta tags can also influence search rankings. Be sure to make good use of the title and description tags by including your target keywords in them.

Last but not least, format your stories for SEO. This won’t be an issue if the full text is presented on a web page in HTML. But if your case studies will be in PDF format, talk to your graphic designer or SEO firm to make sure the search engines will be able to read them.

3. Use case studies in white papers.

Do you have a case study that shows how a customer used your product or service to solve a widespread industry problem? Perhaps your offering was designed to address that nagging problem in an innovative way. If so, you’ve got the building blocks for an effective lead-gen white paper.

Case studies and good lead-gen white papers share the same basic structure: problem/solution. There are other white paper formats, but the problem/solution works best when it comes to generating leads.

You’ll need to further develop the problem section, examine previous solutions and why they don’t work, and introduce your solution as part of a generic class, as I did recently for a client in a white paper for a requirements analysis product. Once you’ve described your solution in generic terms, however, you can introduce your specific product by way of an abbreviated version of your case study. This not only proves that the generic solution you’ve just described really exists today. It also shows the reader the type of results he can get if he adopts your specific solution.

You can also add relevant case studies as examples in white papers targeting specific markets.

4. Build Online Customer Communities

Many companies find it useful to build online customer community sites where current customers can stay informed on how others are finding success with the same products they’re using, and how they might find further success with related products or add-ons.

Case studies are often an integral part of that effort.

These user communities are not only a perfect place to feature the case studies you’ve already published. You can also encourage users to share unpublished stories with the community. This can be a great way to find new customer stories for publication and joint marketing efforts.

5. Share Customer Stories via Social Media

Social media provides a variety of outlets for sharing case studies with target prospects. Twitter and LinkedIn updates are natural places to post links to new stories, but there are many others.

Does your company publish a blog? Blogs are great places to publicize new customer stories. Likewise, case studies are great tools for attracting and engaging blog readers. Earlier, I mentioned that a case study I wrote recently generated a lot of leads. The day my client released that case study, they announced it in a blog post. That post drove so much traffic to their landing page that it bogged down their server and slowed their website to a crawl for several hours.

Forums are another great place to publicize customer successes. Trade associations and LinkedIn Groups provide thousands of tightly-focused forums across the full gamut of industry verticals and interests. Plus, most forums will allow you to post links, making it convenient to target stories to specific audiences.

But don’t simply post links. Follow these groups. You may find discussions of the problems your company solves. Join in the discussion and include links to your stories as examples. Above all, obey forum rules. Explicitly promotional posts are often prohibited, but if you provide genuinely helpful, relevant information, you shouldn’t have any problems.

6. Feature Case Studies in Newsletters

Company newsletters are the perfect vehicle for sharing customer stories with prospects, customers, partners, and employees.

Featuring case studies in your prospect newsletters lets you showcase your solutions and the various verticals you serve. This helps build trust over time.

For current customers, case studies provide a way for you to share best practices. Providing examples of new uses for the products they already own, and ideas on how they might make use of your other offerings reaffirms and reinforces the value of your brand.

Case studies are also great for keeping partners and re-sellers informed on how customers are using your solutions. You’ll be supporting their sales efforts by supplying new ideas they can present to customers. You’ll also be keeping them excited about your partnership and about your products and services as well.

Finally, don’t forget your co-workers. In most organizations, many employees have no direct contact with customers. They probably don’t have hands-on involvement with every product or service you offer. And they probably aren’t aware of all the ways customers are using your solutions. Publishing case studies in your employee newsletter can be both educational and inspirational.

Customer success stories provide insights that can lead to further product improvement. They also supply your employees with tangible evidence that what they do makes a real difference—that they’re making an important contribution to the success of both your company and its customers.

7. Leverage Customer Stories in Event Marketing

If your company holds an annual customer conference, case studies will fit right in. Giving customers the opportunity to share their success stories allows them to gain publicity for their own products and services, while providing other users with concrete examples of how to get more from their existing solutions, and how other solutions might work in their environment.

The same idea can be applied to smaller events. You can invite customers to discuss their stories in webinars and teleclasses. In your promotions for such events, mentioning the customers and stories you’ll be featuring will tend to increase interest and participation.

And of course, case studies are naturals as trade show handouts. Try to have a wide variety available, covering all your products and target verticals. When your marketing and sales staff engage prospects in conversation, being able to share an example that closely matches the prospect’s problem can be very impressive and powerful.

8. Use Case Studies to Supercharge Your Direct Marketing

Three seconds.

That’s about how much time you have to grab your prospect’s attention with a direct mail or email marketing promotion. Otherwise, it’s doomed to the recycling bin.

And the place where you grab your prospect’s attention is in your lead – the headline and opening paragraphs of the piece. Effective leads come in a variety of forms. In B2B, we most often use the Problem/Solution lead. But there’s also the Offer lead, the Invitation lead, the “How To” lead…

And then, there’s the Story lead.

Many of the most successful direct mail promotions of all time begin with a story. A sales letter that began, “On a beautiful late spring day, 25 years ago, two young men graduated from the same college,” for example, mailed for 28 years and sold over a billion dollars worth of subscriptions for the Wall Street Journal.

Stories are engaging. They’re familiar to us. They promise news and entertainment. They naturally grab our attention. As a result, story leads are probably the most powerful lead type in direct marketing. But since you need a good story to make the story lead work, they’re little used in B2B marketing.

That’s where your case studies come in.

A well-written case study can be excellent lead material for an email or direct mail campaign. Obviously, they can be used to effectively promote the same product or service which brought your customer their success. But they can also be employed in lead-generation campaigns offering white papers, e-books, podcasts, webinars… even the case study itself.

Plus, with a story lead drawn on a recent case study, not only will you immediately engage your prospects’ attention. You’ll also be building credibility with a real-world example of what your product has already done for others.

Take-Away Points

  1. Make sure case studies are easy to find on your website by offering visitors multiple paths to the stories that interest them.
  2. Use case studies to boost your search engine rankings by:
    • Optimizing them for target keywords
    • Making good use of links and meta tags
    • Making sure they’re search engine readable.
  3. Use case studies as real-world examples in your white papers.
    • You may even want to consider building a lead-gen white paper from a strong case study.
  4. Make case studies an integral part of your online customer communities.
  5. Blogs and forums are ideal venues for sharing your customer stories with social media users.
  6. Case studies are high-impact material for company newsletters aimed at:
    • Prospects
    • Current customers
    • Partners and re-sellers
    • Employees
  7. Case studies can be used to great effect at live company and industry events to:
    • Provide participants with fresh ideas for getting more from your solutions
    • Give customers a chance to gain publicity for their own businesses
    • Increase participation at prospecting events
    • Support conversations with prospects at trade shows
  8. Customer stories are great attention-getters in direct mail and email marketing.

Next Steps

Need help crafting a versatile, compelling case study to employ throughout your content marketing mix? Email CopyEngineer at info@copyengineer.com.

References

1 Eccolo Media 2008-2015 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Reports, Eccolo Media, Inc., www.eccolomedia.com

2 13th Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmark, Budgets, and Trends, Content Marketing Institute, October 2022.

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