Case Study Brief Formatting

Compelling case studies can help you convince potential customers to start to use your product.

This is especially true if your case study subject is in the same industry or is the same size as your potential customer.

There’s just one problem.

Writing an excellent case study is hard.

So we thought we would help lighten the load for you.

This post contains 35 case study examples across a variety of industries to help inspire your content writers.

Plus, we’ll walk through a step-by-step process on how to write a case study of your own (using one of two different template styles can grab for free).

Create Great Marketing Case Studies With Four Free Templates

Before we get into the post, let’s not waste time giving you what you came here for.

That’s our marketing case study templates, right?

In this, bundle, you’ll get:

  • Three Case Study Templates (Print or PDF): Use this Word template to create a case study you’ll either print or make available via PDF. We’ve included three copies in green, red, and blue header colors.
  • Case Study Template (Web): Use this template to write your case study content as a web page.

Grab them both and following on with the rest of this post.

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What Is A Case Study?

According to Top Rank Blog, a case study is:

“An analysis of a project, campaign or company that identifies a situation, recommended solutions, implementation actions and identification of those factors that contributed to failure or success.”

Here’s a case study video example from a brand you might even be drinking right now (if we had to guess, we’d say marketers love their Starbucks):

TL;DR? Check out this Slideshare if you want a quick overview on developing case studies:

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7 Steps To Writing a Strong Case Study

Writing a case study involves gathering all the information you need from your organization, your client or a customer, and then formating into an easy to read document.

Here are the seven steps you need to follow to write a full study.

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Step One: Finding the Subject of Your Case Study

The first step in any case study writing process is deciding who you want to write about. It could be your organization, a client or a customer.

Some criteria to keep in mind when you’re selecting your case study subject is:

  • If you’re working with a customer or client, how much do they use your product or service?
  • Has there been a dramatic result since they started working with your organization?
  • Have they used a competitor before?

To find this information, consider:

  • Talking to your sales team to see if there are any prospects who may be willing to participate.
  • Asking your customer support department if they have any exceptional customers.
  • Review recent new customers to see if any prospective candidates have bought from you.

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Step Two: Ask For Permission to Use Their Story in Your Case Study

It’s one thing if you’re writing about your organization, it’s another if you’re writing about customers or clients. Don’t just pull information about them and throw it into a case study.

Ask them before you start.

Create a Permission Letter

If you are creating multiple case studies, design a pre-written permission letter. It will help move your writing process along.

Your letter should include:

  • What the case study undertaking is going to look like.
  • What they get out of the case study.

Here’s a copy-and-paste template you can tailor to your needs:

Hi [Name of person],

Our team is conducting a case study, and we would love to tell the story of [company]. Would you be interested in working with us to create a case study around the use of our product?

Here’s a description of our process and what we would need from you:

What we’d like from you:

  • High-resolution company logo (basically as big as possible)
  • High-resolution images of your team, company office, etc – stories with photos of your team will drive more traffic (people like seeing that there are humans behind a story)
  • Stats: before [Company] / after [Company]

What does the process look like?

  • 1 [phone/video call/coffee] interview with [person].
  • Our team will then take your interview and build a story out of it.
  • 2-3 email conversations may be necessary to gather extra information.
  • Once final draft is complete – we’ll send it over to your team for review.
  • We’ll then finalize the story, create a landing page, and build a campaign around it.
  • Once live we’ll share final story with you (for your marketing efforts)

Average Turnaround Time: 1 month (subject to change based on response times and edits).

What’s in it for you?

  • Perk One
  • Perk Two
  • Perk Three
  • Perk Four
  • Perk Five

Best regards,

[SIGNATURE]

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Consider Using a Legal Release Form

Another potential step in the process is asking your case study subjects to sign a legal release form so you can use their information.

You do not have to take this step in your case study creation process. If you do decide to have your subjects sign a form, consult with your legal team first.

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Step Three: Send Them An Introductory Questionnaire

Once your client or customer has agreed to participate, you should begin to format your introductory questionnaire.

This questionnaire will help you get the information you need to shape the story of your case study.

Some potential questions to include could be:

  • What problem did you experience before using our product/service?
  • Why did you select our product/service instead of a competitor?
  • How did our product/service solve a problem you were experiencing?
  • What are your goals as a business or organization?
  • Are you comfortable sharing data and metrics demonstrating your success?

You can adjust your questions based on how your customer uses your product to get specific answers or quotes that can be highlighted in your study.

Recommended Reading:40 Content Writing Tips to Make You a Better Marketer Now

Step Four: Format Your Case Study Interview Questions

Once your client or customer has completed your initial questionnaire, it’s time to draft your interview questions.

Asking quality interview questions is critical to ensure that you get the information you need to write a full case study. Remember your clients or customers are busy, so you don’t want to have to ask for more details multiple times.

Based on the responses that you received from your initial questionnaire, you can adjust questions to get any additional information you need.

Here are 25 case study questions to add to your interview.

Getting To Know Your Subject

These questions should be similar to the ones you sent in your questionnaire. These should help you gather any information you may have missed.
Potential examples are:

  • What industry is your company in?
  • How long have you been using our product or service?
  • What is your work process like?
  • How many members are on your team?
  • What goals do you set for your team?

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What Problems Were They Experiencing?

Your case study participants were obviously experiencing some problem before they turned to your organization for a solution. Give the readers of your case study, even more, context by getting as much information about their problem as possible.

Some possible questions to include in your interview are:

  • When did your team first realize there was a problem?
  • What solutions did you try before you came to us?
  • Did your problem happen suddenly or did it occur over time?
  • How did the team come to the decision that outside assistance was required?
  • What factors led to the problem developing?

[Tweet “Writing a case study? Here are five questions to ask when identifying your subject’s core problems.”

What Helped Them Make Their Decision?

Finding out what helped your client or customer decide to work with your company is not only informative for potential new business, but it can help your organization determine what materials to publish.

Try these questions out during your interview:

  • What materials did you read or watch that influenced your decision?
  • What criteria did you have when you were looking for a solution?
  • What competitors did you look at (if any)?
  • How did you convince your team to make a change?
  • What sealed the deal for you when you choose to work with our organization?

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How Does Your Solution Help?

Talk to your customer or client and find out how your solution is helped them fix the problem that they were previously experiencing.

Add these questions to your interview list:

  • What [product/service] helped solve your problem?
  • What did our product or service replace in your current work process?
  • What tasks did our [product/service] simplify for you?
  • How much time do you save?
  • What tasks did our [product/service] eliminate?

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How Did They Implement Your Product?

Another relevant question to ask during your interview process is how your subject implemented your solution into their work process. This could help eliminate nerves from other potential new customers.

Here are some questions to ask during your interview:

  • How easily did your team adapt our product into their routine?
  • How was your onboarding process?
  • What process did you use to switch over to using our product?
  • What difficulties did you face in the transition process?
  • What advice do you have for anyone implementing our product into their work process?

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What Results Did They See?

Results speak volumes so why not let your customer or client data do the talking for you? Remember that you may not be able to gather or showcase all the data you ask for.

Try adding a few of these questions to your list of questions:

  • How much faster are you at completing [task] now that you use our product?
  • How did we help you reach your goals?
  • Did you see any significant jumps in the data that your team collects?
  • How has your productivity changed since implementing our [product/service]?
  • What positive results have you seen?

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Want to keep these questions somewhere handy for reference? Save this cheat sheet:

Step Five: Schedule the Interview

You’ve found your subject, and your interview questions are at the ready. The next part of your process is going to involve setting up your interview.

First, you need to set up a time for your interview on a synced calendar.

Do This With CoSchedule: Did you know you can sync your Google Calendar with your CoSchedule calendar? Learn how.

Then you need to decide how you’re going to conduct your interview. Here are some options:

  • Phone interview. Use a phone call recording app like [Include some options here]. Make sure you have permission to record your call.
  • Video call. If you’re using a Mac, Quicktime makes it easy to record video calls on your desktop for free. Windows users can use Skype.
  • Face to face meeting. If your client is local, this may be the easiest and most personable option.

Once you and your client/customer have decided on an interview time and place, make sure that you have a way to document your interview, either through a recording device or note taking (we highly recommend recording your conversation for accuracy and peace of mind).

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Step Six: Write Your Case Study

Finally, you have all of your information collected in one place. Now comes the fun part; putting it all together into the case study template you downloaded earlier.

Writing Your Title

The first part of any good case study is a catchy title. Your title should include the name of your client or customer as well as their logo. Your subhead should also be short and included information on what product or service they used that helped them solve their problem.

In your template, add your title (and your subject’s logo):


What does a quality title look like? Well, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It should:

  • State who it’s about.
  • Explain what was done.
  • Communicate a clear result.

Take a look at this example from bit.ly:

This title works because of it explains:

  • The problem the company faced.
  • What type of company is involved in the case study.
  • How bit.ly helped them tackle the challenge.

Do This With CoSchedule: Did you know that CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer can help you write better headlines? Try it now.

Executive Summary

Your executive summary should be a two to three sentence paragraph that describes the story of your client/customer. You can also include a statistic or two to help illustrate the success of your case study subject.

Here’s what this section looks like in your template:

Check out this executive summary example about Patagonia:

 

This executive summary works because:

  • It explains what Patagonia is about.
  • It highlights the problem the company was experiencing.
  • It’s short and concise.

Who is The Case Study About?

The next part of your case study should explain who your case study is about. This is where the information that you gathered from your initial questionnaire would go.

Here’s what this section looks like in your template:

This one, from a case study about Adobe, is tied in with its executive summary:

Why this works:

  • It explains who Adobe is.
  • It highlights what the Adobe team is already doing.
  • It ties together the problem Adobe experienced with the reason it turned to LinkedIn for a solution.

Problems They’ve Faced

In this part of the study, write about the top two to three issues that your case study participant was experiencing. You should summarize what challenges they faced as well as their previous goals.

Cirque de Soleil’s case study is a great example of address problems a company faces in a case study:

 

Why it works:

  1. The study cuts right to the heart of the problem.
  2. It mentions the specific part of the company that helped Cirque.
  3. It breaks through the fluff and gets the point across right away.

How Did You Help?

 

This section of your case study is going to show off the solutions that your customers and clients use. It should highlight the changes that you’ve brought to their team.

Callaway Golf is another great example of a case study that explains how it’s researcher helped solve their problem.

Why this works:

  • It shows people how LinkedIn has access to Callaway’s target demographic.
  • It explains how they created an app to help solve Callaway’s problem.
  • It explains parts of the data they used to target Callaway’s target audience.

Progress and Results

The final section of your case study should feature the progress that has been made since your customer or client began to use your services. This could be shown through progress towards their goals, changes in metrics they track, and more.

Here’s what this section looks like in your template:

Take a look at the results section in a case study on Weebly.

 

Why this works:

  • The results are one of the most visuals aspects of the case study.
  • They are easy to skim.
  • You can easily tell what type of growth or improvement they experienced.

Using Visuals In Your Case Study

Visuals can help add the extra oomph you need to make a great case study. It can also help make the document easier to skim.

Whether that means graphs, logos, or photos, visuals can make a huge difference.

 

Here are a few extra resources to help you create solid visuals for your case study.

Do This In CoSchedule: You can manage projects and hold your team accountable to meeting deadlines with CoSchedule?Learn how.

Step Seven: Promoting Your Case Study

Your case study is finally complete. You sent it off to your client/customer, and they approved your work.

Now what?

You did all that work, don’t forget to get it out there for the world to see.

Promote your case study by:

The great thing about case studies is that they are an easy piece of marketing material to tack on to any additional campaign.

Do This In CoSchedule: You can plan and promote all your content in one place with CoSchedule? Learn how to create and schedule automated social media promo campaigns in CoSchedule.

What Does A Case Study Look Like? Let’s Look at 5 Examples.

Now that you know how to create a great case study let’s look at some well-executed examples.

Vega Case Study Example

Here’s an example of a case study our team at CoSchedule created for Vega, a customer specializing in premium plant-based lifestyle products. It makes it clear who they are and exactly how CoSchedule has improved their business.

 

Red Bull Marketing Case Study Example

Red Bull is known for its amazing content marketing. This case study from Link Humans turns a typical blog post into a full-blown case study examining how the brand executes its wildly innovative strategy:

 

Automotive Case Study Example

Why does this case study work? It’s about an automotive company, and it’s coming from one of the biggest family brands ever: Disney.

It’s also:

  1. Concise and to the point. There is no fluff that would distract the reader from the information they need to find.
  2. Outside of Disney’s wheelhouse and therefore reaches a different but desired target market. Who would think of Disney as a resource to help craft a new company culture? This case study shows that they can.

Big-Box Store Case Study Example

Target is a big brand box store that is branching out and trying new things to interact with its customers. This case study from TED landed on our highlight list for two reasons.

  1. One is its visually appealing images …
  2. … and the other is the way the TED team formatted the study for the web. It’s short, sweet and broken into easy to skim paragraphs.

Hotel Case Study Example

This case study from Hilton is a great example of how a company can conduct a study on itself. This brief document is a perfect example of how to format a case study for easy printing.

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Now Go Write An Awesome Case Study

The fear of creating a compelling case study is gone. You have great examples to follow and two different templates to help you format the information you gather.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Do you have a question or two about formatting case studies? Let us know in the comments below.

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Get Your Case Study Template Bundle

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Case studies are a great way to tell the world how valuable your products or services are. They go beyond simple testimonials by showing real-life examples of how you were able to satisfy your customer’s needs and help them accomplish their goals. With great case studies, you will be able to highlight your successes in a way that will make your ideal potential customer become your customer. The following are some tips on how to make your case studies a powerful asset in soliciting business.

1. Write About Someone Your Ideal Customer Can Relate To

Do you know who your ideal customer is? If it’s someone in the education industry, then make your case studies about your university customers. If it’s someone in the automobile industry, then make your case studies about auto parts and accessories manufacturers.

The goal is to ensure that once your ideal customer has read your case studies, they will feel:

  • You are comfortable in their industry.
  • You know their industry’s specific needs.
  • You know how to give their industry targeted results.

Think about it on a smaller level, such as when you’re reading a how-to blog post. Most of them are geared toward average readers. But when you come across a how-to post specifically designed for your needs (such as online marketing for the healthcare industry), then you are more likely to understand and apply the information. The same goes with case studies – people who read about results attained in their industry will feel like the same products / services will work for them as well.

2. Tell the Story from Start to Finish

People enjoy reading a story. A great case study will allow someone to really get to know the customer in the case study including:

  • Who is the sample customer and what do they do?
  • What were the customer’s goals?
  • What were the customer’s needs?
  • How did you satisfy those needs and help the customer meet their goals?

A final thing you could do is simply follow up with the customer in the case study and update your case study a few months down the road to show how your products / services are continuing to have long term benefits for the customer. This would give readers the opportunity to see that your goal is not only to help with immediate needs, but also to ensure long term results.

3. Provide Easy to Read Formatting

No one really likes to read one huge chunk of text, no matter how interesting and informative it might be. Be sure to use good content formatting elements like you would with articles, blog posts, and copywriting on your website including:

  • Headers
  • Images
  • Bulleted lists
  • Bolded & italicized text

In addition to providing great SEO value for your case studies page, these formatting elements will help your readers (especially those that like to skim) find the most important parts of your case study and get a great impression about what your business could do for them.

4. Include Real Numbers

Have you ever read case studies where a business states that they “doubled traffic” for the customer in their case study and wondered if that meant they went from 100 to 200 visits or 10,000 to 20,000 visits? Certain ways of displaying numbers can have an ambiguous meaning. You will want your case study to be as clear as day. So instead of just saying you doubled their traffic, show them real numbers and (if possible) real proof.

Of course, remember that not everyone is as familiar with the technology as you are, so be sure to highlight what they should be noticing.

This way, the reader can see where the customer began and where the customer ended up with your help. They can see real, tangible results. Plus having the picture proof can help the reader envision exactly what you might do for them, making the case study that much more powerful.

5. Talk Specific Strategy

So you doubled a website’s traffic or sales, right? How did you do it? This is where you sell your products or services simply by saying which ones you used and how they led to the desired result. You shouldn’t just say “our online marketing services led to these results.” Instead, you should say “it was a combination of a three-month dedicated social media campaign focusing on Facebook & YouTube and five months of link building that led to an increase in rankings plus brand exposure that led to these results.”

6. Try Different Formats

While people like stories, case studies do not have to be fit into story form every time. You could try different types of case studies, such as an interview format where you have your clients answer the same questions mentioned earlier about what they do, their needs, their goals, and how you met them. Quoting your customer in their own words will make the case study even more relatable to your ideal customer than you telling the story.

7. Appeal to Different Types of Learners

While some people enjoy reading, others may prefer audio, video, or visual representation of your case study. So consider taking your text-based case studies and re-purposing the content as:

  • A podcast
  • A YouTube video
  • Or even an infographic (such as the one below)

The bonus with YouTube videos and infographics is that they are easy to share. This means that your case study may go further than just your own site, leading to more of your potential customers finding out how they could benefit from your products or services.

8. Make Them Easy to Find

What’s the point of having great case studies if no one will ever read them? Be sure that your case studies are organized and easy to find. Some great examples of how to do this include the following:

Amazon Web Services

Microsoft’s Business Hub

Drupal

Have any case study best practice tips or examples of case studies you have enjoyed? Please share them in the comments!

About Kissmetrics

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About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing, including social networking strategies and blogging tips.

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