Getting a real life opinion from someone is always more helpful, because it’s both unbiased and often rooted in a common experience. Many times opinions from friends have a huge impact on how consumers spend their money. Recent studies show that 9 out of 10 people are looking at online product reviews and posts on social networks, before making a purchasing decision.
Case studies help your customers visualise how your product fits into their lives. A convincing testimonial can be that missing piece that moves them to take purchasing action. By sharing stories of how your product has helped others, you will be sending a message about how it works and whom it has helped. While each of your case studies will tell a unique story, they will all have the same core components that allow your leads to see themselves using your brand.
You need to find the right reviewers, here’s what to look for
Look for customers who know your product or service inside out and are visibly happy about it. Customers who can speak about their experience fluidly are among your best candidates for posting testimonials on your site. If there’s a specific part of your product that you’re trying to promote, you can look for customers who are seeing success with it and let them talk about what it does for them.
Find customers who are seeing great results and are eager to share them with the world. Anytime you can collect great quotes and sound-bites from customers, you are building a valuable archive for your business. It also becomes engaging content found only on your site.
Sometimes even warm leads question whether or not your solution is really the right choice for them. If they can see a non-traditional customer seeing exceptional results with your company, who’s to say they won’t have success, too?
Big name/recognisable brands
If the big players in an industry are vouching for your product or service, this lends credibility that the smaller companies can’t offer.
If you have customers who used one or more (more is best) competitive products/services before they came to you, these stories are worth their weight in gold. Getting customers to tell your prospects why you’re better than your competition will hold far more weight than your own brand saying so.
Where to look
First, ask your sales reps what they need. Where are they struggling to close deals, what are your top verticals? What part of your offering is in demand and what do you need to prioritise?
Your customer service and account managers hear from your customers all the time and know the types of projects they are working on and the success they have seen so will be able to make great recommendations for case studies.
Have a look on social media to see which of your customers are talking about you and what they’re saying. Chances are if they’re happy to talk about you publicly on social, they’ll be happy to do a case study, too.
Check the review sites that are relevant to your industry and see if you have been reviewed by any of your customers already. It’s a good idea to keep a backlog of these mentions to use in sales pitches, but also to reach out to those customers to create a full case study.
Use your CRM system or customer database to do your own research; what industries do the majority of your customers fall into? What is your most/least popular products or services? Where is most of your revenue coming from?
Hosting memorable events for your customers is a great way to speak to them one-on-one and find potential candidates for case studies.
Reach out to participants
Now that you have decided who you are going to reach out to, the best way to start is sending out a short email congratulating the customer on their success, and then explaining why you want them to be featured in a case study.
When putting together your email:
- Be complimentary. Boost their ego and make them feel really special so they will be more likely to say yes to going public with their experience.
- Keep your introductory email quick and avoid minor details. Simply suggest a time and date to chat further so that they do not feel overwhelmed.
- Attach the questions you’d like to ask so they can look over them as they decide whether or not they want to participate.
- If you received them as a referral from someone on your sales or support team, mention them by name in the email. It will make the customer more comfortable seeing the name of someone they know.
- Remember that your customers are just as busy as you are, so don’t expect every customer to respond to you as soon as you email them. You do need to communicate deadlines for completion so that it doesn’t drag on forever and become a nuisance for everyone involved.
- When you do get a response to your initial email, schedule a time for a phone conversation to conduct the interview. Be aware that you may need to speak to multiple people within the organisation to get the full story.
Prepare interview questions
To write a great case study, you have to ask the right questions. Always ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation fluid, but direct the customer to the topics you want to cover. The questions you ask should help direct a relatable story.
Their experience before using your product/service
- What were you using before this product/service?
- Summarise three points of frustration you faced.
- What was the big ‘a-ha moment‘ when you decided you needed to try something new?
- What were the top reasons you selected this product/service?
Experience using your product/service
- How easy or hard was it to get started with this product/service?
- How has it helped you to overcome the challenges you had before?
- How is it different to other alternatives you’ve tried?
- What is your favorite feature? Why?
- Tell me about the most positive experience you’ve had using this product/service. (Probe for specifics)
Their results with your product/service
- How has this product/service helped you achieve your business or personal goals?
- What specific metrics can you share about the impact it has had? (you may need to follow up to get these)
Why they would recommend your product/service
- What is the single biggest reason you would recommend our offering?
Conduct the interview
It’s important to conduct your interview in such a way that makes your customer feel comfortable and confident to share their story. You must also encourage them to share the details that will make your case study a convincing one for similar companies looking at your product/service.
Keep your questions clear and concise but also open-ended. They shouldn’t be able to answer yes or no to anything.
By keeping the interview conversational you’ll encourage them to chat more openly about their experience, which can bring them down avenues you didn’t expect and can result in some really unique and interesting sound bites.
Sometimes customers have a hard time articulating what they are really trying to say. If an answer doesn’t make sense, make sure you follow up for clarification so you get their story right. They’ll appreciate you taking the time to ensure they sound coherent.
Whenever you notice that a customer touches on a really important point your company is trying to emphasise, ask a few more follow-up questions about that point, so that you are collecting as much strong feedback as possible. Encourage them to provide more details about how it solved a problem and met their needs.
Keep in the back of your mind that you will want compelling sound bites to reinforce your case study. Always be on the lookout for the most enthusiastic customers who want to spread the word about your product. Remember that the best leads become a free word of mouth promotion and referral service for your business.
Layout the case study
Now that you’ve carried out the interview and you’ve gotten a tonne of useful information from your customer that will make a great case study, you need to lay it out in a way that makes sense for the reader. Here’s an effective format:
- Executive summary
- About the client
- The challenges
- The solution
- Show the results
- Call to action
Hope that helps!
By Aaron Enright