What is the purpose of a customer case study

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The customer case study, that age old classic piece of content that you as a marketer worked so very hard to get, no one ever clicks on or reads on your website (I implore you to check your google analytics right now to confirm our suspicion), sales still want more of them and yet you feel you need to have them up on the website.

So, what is the purpose of a customer case study?

When is a customer case study the right piece of content

Traditionally the customer case study has been seen as a way of demonstrating to prospects A) you have other customers and B) they get value from your service / product. However, they sit and gather dust on your main nav only for people to give the logos a once over and click off. Having said that, the customer case study does still have its place within your marketing.

The traditional format of a customer story (case study) looks something like this: nice quote from customer about problems your solution / product solved, the challenges along the way and then some juicy data and anecdotal insight to back up the piece. This does still have a place, and that place is as a sales enablement resource. That’s it. This outdated format of customer stories needs to be relegated off your website and used solely as content sales can utilise in conversation with prospects to back up their claims.

Why you ask? Well, as our friends at HubSpot remind us only 38% of B2B software buyers rely on case studies to help them make a purchasing decision. Compared to 55% who rely on word of mouth recommendations or 46% who rely on customer references. The more your customers are woven into the fabric of your marketing, the easier it is to see what working with you is really like.

How to ditch the customer case study

As marketers we have to think more creatively about how we are sharing our customer’s stories and voices. Relegating them to their own section of the website doesn’t do them justice and there are many more exciting ways to weave their stories into your marketing. This is a great way to demonstrate to prospects that your customers are so important their voices come first.

No content without customers

Customer stories and their voices should be woven into all of your marketing campaigns and plans. There should be no campaign you create that doesn’t include your customers. If it’s a research paper ask them for commentary. If it’s social media, slice and dice your webinars, podcasts and reviews to create social campaigns featuring what your customers say about you or even better ask them to be involved in the creation of the content.

Website

Think about how you can creatively use what your customers say about you on your website. In the same way you should weave their voices into your campaigns, they need to be heard across your site. We should feel them throughout your site. Not just their logos but their words. How they describe what you do is vital to nailing how you sell yourselves. Who knows how to speak to your target market better than your target market?

Find an angle

To really use customer stories creatively you need to find an angle. Not the usual customer case study angle. Really spend the time getting to know your customers and work on content that you can co-create together. It should be full of really deep and fascinating insight that tackles wider themes greater than just your product and its features.

Customer advocacy programme

Have a customer advocacy programme in place that: nurtures relationships with your customers, determines who to ask and when, as well as ensures you find that all important angle. This key to the success of creating great customer-led content.

Experiment

As marketers we have a duty to experiment and try new things. If you’ve created great relationships with customers through an advocacy programme, and if they trust you, don’t be afraid to try out new things. Your true advocates will come along for the ride.

Customer case study

You can still create a customer case study for sales off the back of all this other glorious content. You can create multiple forms of content off the back of one video or one blog.

Although do ditch the name case study. Customer story is way better.

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