How Surveys Help Create Better Case Studies

Philip Cleave
August 22, 2023
Businessman demonstrating the investigative side of case studies

When it comes to tools to get people to buy from you, case studies are a great way to turn hesitant leads into customers. In fact, many people suggest that it’s almost as effective as a personal recommendation.

However, if it’s to be as valuable as it can be, it needs to be written in the right way. Yet, a common problem with case studies is that too many people become too fixated on the headline numbers of how much they saved, whether in monetary or time saving terms, rather than taking the reader through the customer journey.

Ideally a case study needs to go into more detail about the steps you took to satisfy a client need, along with some positive feedback from your customer. It also needs to tell a story that can resonate with others with similar needs, whose issues can also be solved with a solution such as yours.

Fortunately, you can improve your case studies with more detailed feedback from your customers, which is achievable through a survey and the right sorts of questions.

However, before we look at that, it can be useful to examine the case study in a bit more detail.

Why do I need a case study?

If you've not explored the concept of case studies before, they can offer you a useful tool to amplify your company's lead generation and conversion rates.

Here are some distinct benefits to be gained from creating and using case studies as a marketing tool:

Helps identify needs

By crystallising problems in the minds of your leads, a case study not only gives your prospects a more focused perspective of their own needs, but it also highlights how your product and service can resolve those needs.

A case study can also provide a good overview of the value your company brings to the table.

Your leads get an insight into your business

A case study helps give your leads a clearer insight into how you work when approaching a problem.

For instance, if your unique selling proposition (USP) is offering a great customer service, a case study can reinforce this through your customer's comments.

Helps identify your brand evangelists

To identify issues and obtain the content you need to write your case studies, you need willing participants from your customer base.

The good thing about this process is that those who are happy to participate and have their stories told, are also likely to be among your biggest brand advocates.

Knowing this is extremely valuable, because brand evangelists can help improve your brand reputation through word-of-mouth marketing. And once you've identified who your biggest fans are, you can further nurture and strengthen these relationships.

Assists your sales teams

Once you've been able to create and post an assortment of case studies onto your website, this can be hugely beneficial to your sales team.

By recommending your prospects to read case studies about previous customers, that you helped solve similar problems with, it can help your sales teams to close more deals.

The types of case studies you need

While it’s useful to know how a case study can benefit you, it’s also helpful to know what types of case studies you will need.

From public sector and healthcare to education and not for profit, for many organizations, it’s likely that they will have a wide and varied client base that operates across a range of different industries. However, while the overarching problems they face are often the same, their individual pain points are likely to be different.

Consequently, if you have a diverse range of clients, your case studies need to be able to reflect the kinds of industries they work in and issues they come up against.

Ultimately, the closer you can align your case study with the problems a particular type of client is facing, the more impactful your case study will be, and the more likely they will be to contact you about how you can help them.

How to build your case study with surveys

When it comes to case studies, the most powerful ones mirror the customer journey of a client, from consideration and purchase to ongoing retention and advocacy. This means focusing on:

  • The problems they faced when they first contacted you
  • How you were able to work with them to find a solution
  • What results your solution enabled for them

As we outlined earlier, the aim of a case study is get beyond the headline figures, into the actual detail of what your solution was able to solve for them and the wider benefits this is providing.

The most effective way to get this information is through a combination of online surveys and interviews. A good survey will help you to build a picture of the problem your client was facing, how your solution helped them and the benefits it’s providing. Then through the interview you can ask more detailed and complex questions that help you to fill in the finer details.

To get the information you need your survey questions will need to include a mixture of qualitative and quantitative data.

The questions you use to gather quantitative data, will be focused on collecting numerical and statistical information. This can include top level results such as the amount of money or time you saved, new leads or customers you gained and more.

By contrast, your qualitative questions will be more concerned with getting more in-depth feedback, about the processes involved and your customer’s sentiments, personal experiences and the lessons they learnt.

Subsequently, the quantitative aspect to your research will use closed-ended questions, typically involving 'yes’ or 'no’ answers or asking people to rate something, while the qualitative side will use open-ended questions to give respondents an open canvas for their thoughts and feelings.

With a good mix of these questions in your survey, it should enable you to build a strong framework for your story, with the key facts and insights you need for your follow-up interview.

What questions to ask in your survey

When you’re thinking about your survey questions, you want to be considering questions that closely follow the outline of your customer’s user journey. This essentially means covering off the three points we listed in the section above.

The questions that you outline in your survey also need to be specific. So, this can involve breaking down bigger points into more specific questions.

For example, if you wanted to find out more about why they choose to work with us, you might choose to breakdown this down into the following questions:

What problems were you facing before you started working with us?

What might have happened if we weren’t able to solve the problem for you?

What factors most convinced you to choose our company over a competitor?

Hopefully you can see how these three questions can enable you to dig a little deeper. It can also help provide a clearer steer for your follow up interview.

How to turn your case study into a story

In copywriting, it’s generally agreed that the amount of copy you need is proportional to the cost of the product or service you’re selling. Therefore, the more expensive your product or service, the more you have to explain, show, educate and convince a prospect to make a purchase.

However, if you need to write a long piece of content, you need to make it interesting, which is where storytelling comes to the fore.

Whether it’s the stories we read in magazines, newspapers or online to those we watch on TV. Whatever story draws us in, it’s likely to be more memorable to us than facts alone.

In addition to this, when you write a case study within a framework of a story, it provides you with the opportunity to tap into emotional triggers. This is crucial, as we often make decisions off the back of these triggers.

Putting everything together

Once you’ve got all the data you need, writing your case study should be relatively straightforward.

As with all content, the first thing you need is a compelling headline. Your goal is to draw people in, so it’s good to try and squeeze in the kind of results they can expect from you. Utilize the framework of your story to lead them towards your end goal, before hitting them with a call to action.

Summing up, ideally you want to cover off each of the following:

  • Start with a headline figure
  • Place the case study within the context of a story
  • Include insights from the person you worked with
  • Provide proof in the form of screenshots and your customer’s brand logo
  • Finish with a call to action

Don’t forget to include an engaging design. This should also allow readers who’ve only got time to quickly scan your copy to pick out the key facts of that case study.

For ideas of how to write your case study, you might like to read a recent case study we’ve worked on with Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust.

Final thoughts

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog on case studies, and if you weren’t already, you will now recognize what a valuable tool they can be for strengthening your customer relationships and generating more leads.

However, the key to all this is good data, as without this you won’t be able to generate the case study content that engages and inspires. This is why surveys are so important to helping you create better case studies.

Get the compelling survey data you need for your next case study

A willing customer and an interesting problem and solution dilemma provide a solid platform for your case study, but if you’re to get the data to create a compelling story, you need to be asking the right questions. Fortunately, if you use the right platform that gives you the types of survey questions and other tools you need, you’re more likely to generate the best results.

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If you would like more information then please get in touch.