A case study (or extended testimonial, if you like) is great in so many ways. It allows you to demonstrate how you’ve applied your expertise to a problem, it helps you to show off any nice things a client has said about or to you; and, from a purely website-focused point of view, it allows you to generate new, relevant content for your site. Let’s take a look at how to go about putting one together…
Traditionally, websites often contain “Testimonials” pages. That’s one page filled with snippets of praise you’ve received from happy customers. These things must hark back to the visitors book you find at a chintzy B&B, or when people used to write letters to a company to let them know what a good job they’d done.
The thing is, as lovely as they are for you as the business owner to read, they can be a bit dull from a visitor’s point of view. Of course your testimonials page is going to say nice things about you. Why wouldn’t it?
But by taking the nice comments and wrapping them up in a case study you can do so much more. Here are the building blocks of a good case study.
1. Present a problem that is recognisable by a section of your target market
There may be nuances and niches within a particular problem you solved, but for general consumption the overall problem should be something that your target audience can relate to. Spend some time explaining how you met the client and analysed the problem.
Use this as an opportunity to show your diagnostic knowledge; how you are able to explain what you found in simple terms.
2. Show your detailed solution and why you opted for this
It’s not enough to say “we found X was broken so we replaced it with Y”. A potential customer is going to want to see that having analysed the situation, you weighed up the options in terms of timescale, cost and future-proofing, and provided the best fix for that particular client in that particular situation. You are trying to demonstrate your adaptability to any given scenario.
3. Prove the value you added with detailed results
This is where the case study can be a bit of a slow burner. You may have to wait a while to have any results to show, but it will be worth it. Now you can pull in your client’s quotes, but see if you can focus them on the benefits and value that you added with your work, rather than just having them say “they turned up on time and did a good job”.
In all honesty, it may be a struggle to get anything too detailed out of a customer, but you could pull bits out of a conversation you have with them over the phone or email, so long as they are OK with you using that.
Some further case study considerations
1. How do you illustrate the problem and solution?
Of course, you’re going to want to illustrate the case study in some way. Ideally you can get a picture of the problem before and after (if it’s something very appealing to the eye, like a new building or a wrecked car that you’ve restored, it may be worth hiring a professional photographer to get before and after pictures).
In some cases, like if you arranged a complex mortgage for someone, this won’t work. In this instance you’re going to need to rely on stock photos, but choose wisely. Another option, if the work was done for a recognisable company, would be to use their logo or some of their corporate imagery (with permission, of course – which is a nice sweetener as you can then give the client a link back to their website).
2. Try to show people that a real person said the nice things
If you can, get a picture of the person who’s quoted in the case study. Even better than pictures would be a video testimonial. Not only does video entice a click, meaning people stay on your page for longer, you can also use it in your social media.
3. Encourage reviews
While you may feel a bit awkward asking people for a “testimonial”, in certain sectors you can get reviews for your Google+ or Facebook page (which in itself is a good thing to be doing) which can then be used throughout your site (with permission).
Pic credit: Gratisography