Winning new clients is a primary concern for many freelance developers and agency owners. However, making sure a project goes swimmingly is also a key consideration, not least because the quicker a project wraps, the faster you can begin the next one.
In our opinion, case studies are one of the best ways to do both of the above. They’re essentially snapshots of a project, including how you work and the benefits you’ve brought to a business. They’re also a way to increase social proof, so it’s something you’ll want to seriously consider.
In this post, we’ll discuss what case studies are, and talk about the benefits of using them. We’ll also show you how to put a case study together, along with some tips on how to make it perfect!
What a Case Study Is
You may have come across case studies elsewhere when looking through a company’s site. In a nutshell, they’re an overview of a project you’ve worked on. This usually takes the form of a simplistic summary of the work you did on the project.
There are many aspects that make up a case study beyond simply summing up a recent project. You’re looking to demonstrate a number of other elements to the reader, such as:
- How easy you are to work with.
- Your expertise across a number of different areas and niches.
- The tangible benefits of your work.
In fact, case studies can be seen as an expansion of testimonials. These are usually one or two lines from a current client talking about your work in glowing terms. In contrast, a case study looks to provide proof of those statements objectively using statistics, real-world examples, customer quotes, and more. You can essentially think of a case study as a real-world look at how you can help clients positively.
Case studies are a great way to promote yourself and help win more work, which we’ll get onto shortly. However, there are also other benefits you’ll potentially stand to receive by creating case studies. For example, customers seeking out your services can get an at-a-glance look at how you work. While the process may not be the same for their project, it gives a helpful look at your approach, which could sway an otherwise undecided customer.
You could also use case studies as a part of your content marketing. For example, with some adaption, your story could be used as a guest post on an external blog. The reach and exposure you’ll get from this will be hugely beneficial to grow your audience.
How Case Studies Can Help You Win More Work and Undertake Smoother Projects
Let’s look beyond the surface benefits and discuss how case studies can directly impact you as a business. For example, depending on how comprehensive the case study is, a potential customer could use it to carry out some rough pre-planning on their end. The information you provide essentially helps them plan and budget before they even reach out to you.
This is obviously going to cut away some of the ‘selling’ you do as part of the natural onboarding process. In addition, devising a workflow is going to be easier when a customer simply compares their project to a similar one. There’s also gains when it comes to project turnover, and potentially even asset and resource usage, depending on the project.
Of course, digital communication is a distinctly non-human method of interaction, no matter how many emojis and other personal elements are present. As such, displaying a human element in your content is a great way of bringing work to you.
Finally, they can be used to bolster your overall reputation and authority. For example, you could show off your expertise and ability to complete projects under specific circumstances, which can be a helpful factor in winning new work.
The Anatomy of a Case Study
At its core, creating a case study is not much different from many other types of content. In fact, if you’ve had to create landing pages before you’ll be familiar with the structure, albeit with some minor tweaks. In short, a case study should contain:
- A compelling title designed to draw attention.
- Some details and context on the customer you’re focusing on.
- A discussion on the problem or challenge the customer brought to you. In other words, this is the project overview, framed to present a problem you’ll solve.
- Information on how you solved the problem, using statistics and other hard evidence.
- Quotes and testimonials from the customer explaining how well the project went and talking about you in a positive light.
You’ll also want to include a dedicated section to sum up your offerings, and a Call To Action (CTA) designed to get the reader to contact you. While these elements are the essentials of a good case study, how you structure them is going to be based on your overall style and goals.
Tips on Creating a Stellar Case Study
When putting together your case study, you don’t want the reader to lose interest. This means keeping the piece short – maybe even as low as 500 words. Remember, this isn’t a think piece on how you’ve helped a client – it’s a piece of advertising.
On the subject of maintaining attention, telling a story using your case study is a great way of making sure readers stay focused to the end. You don’t have to be Hemingway to do this – just keep it simple. For example, the very basics of a good story are setup, conflict, and resolution. These should go some way in telling a good story.
Finally, we’d encourage you to cut out any hyperbole or subjective opinion, and stick to hard facts on how you’ve helped your client. For example, you could talk about the Return On Investment (ROI) you’ve given them, or discuss how their ‘time on site’ metrics have risen due to your work.
You could even cover under-the hood-numbers such as page loading times, and much more. In a nutshell, make sure you back up every statement you make with hard evidence, as this is more convincing to potential new clients.
How to Find Case Study Candidates
Finally, let’s briefly touch on how to actually find case study candidates. Quite often, this conversation will come up naturally during a project. However, if you hadn’t previously considered case studies as a viable method of winning new clients, you may have some work to do.
You’ll usually want to focus on the clients you’ve had the most success with, such as long-term clients or those that you otherwise have a great relationship with. In any case, having a script on hand (one that you can reuse with tweaks) is going to help you.
This script should ideally be sent to someone within the target client’s team who ‘champions’ you and the project you worked on. This stops the case study being completed ‘by committee’, and keeps the focus on the positives you brought to the table.
It’s also worth considering including a clause in your contract outlining that you reserve the right to create case studies on the project in question. By giving the client an ‘opt-out’ clause, you can make sure you have a plethora of further case studies on hand, without having to conduct outreach.
When it comes to winning new business, the methods you choose to attract potential clients should be a key concern. While it may eat into your development time, taking in some basic marketing techniques can net you a decent reward. Case studies – essentially the summary of a successful project – can be a real winner in terms of netting fresh clients.
If you’re familiar with landing pages, you’ll find a case study is pieced together in a similar way. What’s more, finding suitable candidates is simply a case of asking your top clients, and grafting an ‘opt out’ element to future contracts you issue.
Are you interested in the benefits that case studies can offer to win new business? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Featured image: Taken.