B2B Case Studies: An Effective Content Marketing Tactic to Drive Sales

proofDid you know that 71% of B2B content marketers use case studies (according to the Content Marketing Institute)? Case studies are an effective marketing tactic, particularly in business-to-business (B2B) sales where larger dollars and greater commitment are involved, i.e. where the buyer wants assurance and proof that what you claim is true.

My personal experience is that many B2Bs develop case studies under the assumption that they must be in-depth narratives with an exorbitant amount of detail. The problem is this takes a lot of time and money and may not be what is needed. My opinion is that if you are considering large investments in case studies to drive the sales process, you should first think through therole the case studies will play in driving engagement and sales.

For example, are your case studies intended to:
·       Generate leads?
·       Warm up the prospect for a phone call?
·       Share detail that will move active prospects to a buying decision?

If the goal is to engage new prospects quicklycase studies can be a fantastic hook, but in-depth reading material may not be as useful in early stages because: 1) the reader may not yet feel connected with your brand, and/or 2) people may not be inclined to read in-depth content when doing initial research. If the purpose of the case study is to generate new leads or drive an immediate CTA, I have found that short and to-the-point Q&A-styled case studies are more effective for the scanning eye who wants general validation that you can solve their problems.

If the goal is to engage prospects further down the funnel who are in decision-making mode, tons of data and detail about your customers’ experiences and successes may be helpful. But even then, it’s important to consider the user experience for consuming such content. You still need to consider the best story and delivery method based on insights about your buyer’s decision-making process.

The point is: Know your audience as well as your objectives. Make sure you know what stories your buyer wants to hear/see and the type of information and level of detail they are most likely looking for. Also consider that you may need different versions and/or phased distribution of the case study’s story based on your buyer’s profile and their stage in the buying journey.

There are many other best practices and techniques to ensure a killer case study and good ROI. Here are three great articles with detailed tips and examples: 

B2B Content Marketing Tactics: Pros, Cons & Best Practices of Case Studies
This article from TopRank shares some great examples and best practices of organizations leveraging case studies as part of their content marketing mix, citing that “It’s stories, not features and benefits, that allow brands to create relevant and engaging connections with prospective customers”.

How to Craft a Compelling B2B Customer Success Story
According to the B2B Content Marketing Report, customer testimonials (89%) and case studies (88%) are the most effective content marketing tactics. This article is a nice overview of best practices and considerations for crafting success stories. It gets into specifics too, which is helpful for those that aren’t used to doing case studies or have preconceived notions about what makes a case study effective.

21 Places to Share Your B2B Case Studies
Outstanding tips and ideas to showcase and get maximum reach once you’ve done your due diligence to create killer case studies.

Also check out this post on the Importance of Visuals and Design in B2B Content Marketing. Choices you make about the look and medium for your case studies are also an important consideration.

By : Lydia Vogtner

Lydia Vogtner is an independent B2B marketing and communications consultant specializing in marketing, messaging and content strategy.

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