Outline In Making Case Study

Case studies are a great way to tell the world how valuable your products or services are. They go beyond simple testimonials by showing real-life examples of how you were able to satisfy your customer’s needs and help them accomplish their goals. With great case studies, you will be able to highlight your successes in a way that will make your ideal potential customer become your customer. The following are some tips on how to make your case studies a powerful asset in soliciting business.

1. Write About Someone Your Ideal Customer Can Relate To

Do you know who your ideal customer is? If it’s someone in the education industry, then make your case studies about your university customers. If it’s someone in the automobile industry, then make your case studies about auto parts and accessories manufacturers.

The goal is to ensure that once your ideal customer has read your case studies, they will feel:

  • You are comfortable in their industry.
  • You know their industry’s specific needs.
  • You know how to give their industry targeted results.

Think about it on a smaller level, such as when you’re reading a how-to blog post. Most of them are geared toward average readers. But when you come across a how-to post specifically designed for your needs (such as online marketing for the healthcare industry), then you are more likely to understand and apply the information. The same goes with case studies – people who read about results attained in their industry will feel like the same products / services will work for them as well.

2. Tell the Story from Start to Finish

People enjoy reading a story. A great case study will allow someone to really get to know the customer in the case study including:

  • Who is the sample customer and what do they do?
  • What were the customer’s goals?
  • What were the customer’s needs?
  • How did you satisfy those needs and help the customer meet their goals?

A final thing you could do is simply follow up with the customer in the case study and update your case study a few months down the road to show how your products / services are continuing to have long term benefits for the customer. This would give readers the opportunity to see that your goal is not only to help with immediate needs, but also to ensure long term results.

3. Provide Easy to Read Formatting

No one really likes to read one huge chunk of text, no matter how interesting and informative it might be. Be sure to use good content formatting elements like you would with articles, blog posts, and copywriting on your website including:

  • Headers
  • Images
  • Bulleted lists
  • Bolded & italicized text

In addition to providing great SEO value for your case studies page, these formatting elements will help your readers (especially those that like to skim) find the most important parts of your case study and get a great impression about what your business could do for them.

4. Include Real Numbers

Have you ever read case studies where a business states that they “doubled traffic” for the customer in their case study and wondered if that meant they went from 100 to 200 visits or 10,000 to 20,000 visits? Certain ways of displaying numbers can have an ambiguous meaning. You will want your case study to be as clear as day. So instead of just saying you doubled their traffic, show them real numbers and (if possible) real proof.

Of course, remember that not everyone is as familiar with the technology as you are, so be sure to highlight what they should be noticing.

This way, the reader can see where the customer began and where the customer ended up with your help. They can see real, tangible results. Plus having the picture proof can help the reader envision exactly what you might do for them, making the case study that much more powerful.

5. Talk Specific Strategy

So you doubled a website’s traffic or sales, right? How did you do it? This is where you sell your products or services simply by saying which ones you used and how they led to the desired result. You shouldn’t just say “our online marketing services led to these results.” Instead, you should say “it was a combination of a three-month dedicated social media campaign focusing on Facebook & YouTube and five months of link building that led to an increase in rankings plus brand exposure that led to these results.”

6. Try Different Formats

While people like stories, case studies do not have to be fit into story form every time. You could try different types of case studies, such as an interview format where you have your clients answer the same questions mentioned earlier about what they do, their needs, their goals, and how you met them. Quoting your customer in their own words will make the case study even more relatable to your ideal customer than you telling the story.

7. Appeal to Different Types of Learners

While some people enjoy reading, others may prefer audio, video, or visual representation of your case study. So consider taking your text-based case studies and re-purposing the content as:

  • A podcast
  • A YouTube video
  • Or even an infographic (such as the one below)

The bonus with YouTube videos and infographics is that they are easy to share. This means that your case study may go further than just your own site, leading to more of your potential customers finding out how they could benefit from your products or services.

8. Make Them Easy to Find

What’s the point of having great case studies if no one will ever read them? Be sure that your case studies are organized and easy to find. Some great examples of how to do this include the following:

Amazon Web Services

Microsoft’s Business Hub

Drupal

Have any case study best practice tips or examples of case studies you have enjoyed? Please share them in the comments!

About Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with email automation. Our software tracks actions of your users across multiple devices allowing you to analyze, segment and engage your customers with automatic, behavior-based emails in one place. We call it Customer Engagement Automation. Get, keep and grow more customers with Kissmetrics.

About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing, including social networking strategies and blogging tips.

Guidelines for Writing a Case Study Analysis

A case study analysis requires you to investigate a business problem, examine the alternative solutions, and propose the most effective solution using supporting evidence. To see an annotated sample of a Case Study Analysis, click here.

Preparing the Case

Before you begin writing, follow these guidelines to help you prepare and understand the case study:

  1. Read and examine the case thoroughly
    • Take notes, highlight relevant facts, underline key problems.
  2. Focus your analysis
    • Identify two to five key problems
    • Why do they exist?
    • How do they impact the organization?
    • Who is responsible for them?
  3. Uncover possible solutions
    • Review course readings, discussions, outside research, your experience.
  4. Select the best solution
    • Consider strong supporting evidence, pros, and cons: is this solution realistic?

Drafting the Case

Once you have gathered the necessary information, a draft of your analysis should include these sections:

  1. Introduction
    • Identify the key problems and issues in the case study.
    • Formulate and include a thesis statement, summarizing the outcome of your analysis in 1–2 sentences.
  2. Background
    • Set the scene: background information, relevant facts, and the most important issues.
    • Demonstrate that you have researched the problems in this case study.
  3. Alternatives
    • Outline possible alternatives (not necessarily all of them)
    • Explain why alternatives were rejected
    • Constraints/reasons
    • Why are alternatives not possible at this time?
  4. Proposed Solution
    • Provide one specific and realistic solution
    • Explain why this solution was chosen
    • Support this solution with solid evidence
    • Concepts from class (text readings, discussions, lectures)
    • Outside research
    • Personal experience (anecdotes)
  5. Recommendations
    • Determine and discuss specific strategies for accomplishing the proposed solution.
    • If applicable, recommend further action to resolve some of the issues
    • What should be done and who should do it?

Finalizing the Case

After you have composed the first draft of your case study analysis, read through it to check for any gaps or inconsistencies in content or structure: Is your thesis statement clear and direct? Have you provided solid evidence? Is any component from the analysis missing?

When you make the necessary revisions, proofread and edit your analysis before submitting the final draft. (Refer to Proofreading and Editing Strategies to guide you at this stage).

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