We as marketers spend a lot of time worrying about our next customer. Where do they come from? Who are they? What will they like about us? What problem can we solve for them? We are constantly asking ourselves these questions, but there is a distinct and specific group that may already hold the answers to these questions. No, I don't have a crystal ball, nor one of those fancy teleportation devices that they had on Star Trek. I'm talking about your already, lovable and loyal customers. Think about it. They already know why they bought from you and why your product is helping their business, so why not ask them?

According to a Bazaarvoice survey, more than 8 out of 10 people say that opinions and recommendations from people they don't know indicate brand quality and influence what they buy. This is why customer case studies are a great tool to sell your product to new customers. It gives your sales staff a way to not only tell prospective customers how your product would benefit them, but show them specific examples of how it is has already helped customers just like them.

To get the most out of your case study, you want to make sure your customer's story is as compelling as possible. Here are five tactics you should use when putting together your next case study to make it more effective for converting interested prospects into paying customers.

1. Be Specific

"It's great!" "I love it!" Okay, great, but I have no idea what product you're talking about. When getting responses from your customers, make sure you're asking the right questions in order to get the most compelling response. Strangely enough, most companies forget to ask the most important question: why? The more detail you can get from your customers, the more insight your prospective customers will gain. Asking "why?" gets you from "It's great!" to "It's great because it helps me save 2 hours in my day."

Takeaway: Ask specific, detailed questions, and always ask "why". It allows you to get tangible information and data that your sales teams can present to leads and prospects. It allows people to understand the product on a deeper level than they may get from the product description alone.

2. Be Authentic

We've all seen them. Whether early in the morning or much too late at night, infomercials are notorious for being almost laughably unbelievable – "A pot-roast in under 5 minutes, that's crazy talk!" While ridiculous, there is a lesson to be learned from the likes of Billy Mayes; showing real results gets you a real response. There is a reason why many consumers don't trust marketing and advertising, because often times they feel like they are being lied to. With authentic customer case studies, your prospects and leads feel like they're hearing an opinion without you in the room. They'll feel like they are getting the real story, not just a rehearsed pitch from a sales person.

Takeaway: Let your customers be open and speak for themselves. If your case studies appear at all like they've been coached, over-rehearsed, or contain a phrase that everyone's heard over and over, your leads will see right through it.

3. Address Common Concerns

After jumping in on a few sales calls, you can get a pretty good idea of the main concerns your prospects have before buying. Common ones include, "How do I know this will help my company?" "How do I know this will be worth the money?" Make a list of what you think are the top 10 concerns customers have had before they purchased your product, and then structure your case studies around the ways in which they resolved these concerns. This will make your case studies far more relatable.

Takeaway : Frame your case studies around common concerns. Not only does it help your customers realize they aren't the only ones facing a certain issue, it gives them a first hand account of how your product or service has specifically addressed the issue in a real life scenario. You want your leads to come away from reading your case studies thinking, "Oh, I had those same concerns, but look how great it worked out for them."

4. Vary Your Customer Types

Just as it's important to vary the types of issues your case studies address, you should also vary the type of customers you feature. This allows you to showcase the different types of customers that use your product. Varying your case studies by the customers you serve makes your case studies more self-serviceable. Sometimes leads just want to find out information for themselves before they talk to a sales person, and grouping your case studies allows them to find the information they are looking for much more easily.

Takeaway : Separate your case studies by industry, customer type, or any way that makes sense for your business. Your sales staff can make sure that potential customers see the case study that most relates to their particular business, interests, needs, and pain points.

5. Connect to your product

When customers talk about your product, make sure you have specific links to pages where they can find out more information about the product. It's great that your current customers are raving about your product, but if your prospects can't find out more information, or don't know where to buy the product, what's the point?

Takeaway: Include clear inbound links and calls to action in your case studies to send prospects to the appropriate site for them to take further steps. It significantly increases the likelihood that interested customers will learn more about your product and be interested in buying, so make sure they know where to go.

Case studies are not always easy to put together, and there is a lot of work involved in making sure they fit your business and your product, but they're a great way to share a different perspective of your product that potential customers may not be able to get from just walking into a store or researching your product online. And if put together with these key tactics, they can be an extremely effective way to help your prospects learn more about your business and help your sales team convert more of these leads into customers. So trust me it's well worth the effort to craft them well.

What are some tactics you use to make your case studies great?


Photo credit: sarahreido

Lauren Sorenson

Lauren Sorenson is an inbound marketer at HubSpot, a marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA that makes inbound marketing and lead management software.

HubSpot

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