How to write an effective case study

Thanks to the reader who asked for this topic.

Case studies are a great way to tell your story to prospects and clients in a way that concretely shows your value and results. Here is what every case study should have:

1. Start with a compelling, results-driven headline. Avoid: “Website redesign for bowling alley.” Instead go for: “Bowling alley generates 50% increase in new bowlers with web site we designed”

2. Your first paragraph should focus on a summary of the case, focusing on a one-sentence description of the problem, and then how you solved the problem.

3. Define the problem in more detail.

4. Define your solution. Avoid technical jargon. For Web Designers, a before and after — along with your logic — works well.

5. Define the results. Here it is best to have the client provide a quote testifying to the results. That increases your credibility 100%.

6. Have a side bar that summarizes the case (the way magazines have boxes with large text and summaries for readers who just want to skim).

7. Provide facts and figures — especially about saving or making more money.

8. Speak in their language not yours. Unless your prospects are technical in nature, don’t get into Cold Fusion, Active Content, etc. Instead, get into how they can now update their site whenever they want, saving thousands in costs….

9. Break up your text with compelling sub-heads. Again, don’t write: “The Problem.” Try something more interesting, like: “How do you get bowlers to visit a website?”

What else?

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  • http://www.thewebmonsters.com webmonster

    Good topic Andrew. I would have to say that I think good case studies are MUCH better than a standard “portfolio” or “testimonials” page. A nice portfolio with a collection of high profile clients is nice and if those clients have something nice to say about your services than that is even better, but in my opinion nothing compares to a case study in regards to gaining credibility with your visitors.

    It is much more powerful to show potential clients the success stories as a result of your services than it is to just show a list of clients. Potential clients want to see results and what better way to show them true results then using case studies.

    The bottom line with clients will always be money. Show the potential clients how you have achieved success in the past and you instantly get their attention. We are currently in the middle of putting together some case studies for the company I work for so this is a very nice list of things to consider as we develop everything. Thanks Andrew!

  • http://www.waterfallweb.net/ RockyShark

    This is good – thanks Andrew! I’ve been thinking that I should put some case studies together for a while now but never really knew where to start.

    Looks easy!

  • http://www.lengelzigich.com maxor

    This is great! I’ve been looking for some tips on writing case studies so this will help out. What about writing a case study based on work you haven’t actually done. I’m talking about the kind of case study where you examine an industry leader and show how your services could help improve their web presence/website/marketing plan etc. etc.

  • http://www.silentflute.co.uk worchyld

    How about “How to write a Press Release that works” for your next article?

  • http://www.thirdweb.com MM3

    Thanks for the article Andrew! As a co-owner of a growing design & development firm, your posts always have relevance to a problem we’ve ran across. It’ refreshing to hear from someone who really seems to be in touch with the industry.

    Case studies are an important compliment to a portfolio. It is much more trusting when you show why and how you provide your solutions instead of just showing the solution in a traditional portfolio. It’s just like being back in school when the teacher would make you show your work, just an answer is not acceptable. Portfolio examples, testimonials and case studies combined seem like a logical and beneficial way to convert prospects into customers. Keep up the great work Andrew!

  • http://www.wraithdragonmedia.com.au WDM

    Not a problem Andrew. Thanks for writing about case studies so quickly and thanks for yet another great blog.

  • http://www.massive.co.uk Johnny Ratcliffe

    Thanks for that, it’s true – testimonials are really important, doesn’t matter how hot your sites are, clients want to know you are human too.

  • Jason Batten

    Very helpful!

  • Sanjay

    Read more on how to create, write and maintain effective blog at http://sanjaykattimani.blogspot.com/2006/06/how-to-create-write-and-promote-blog.html

  • Anonymous

    Thank Andrew!for providing such a nice guideline for writing a case study

  • deleted

    Thanks Andrew! for such a nice guideline for writing a case study. God bless

    Khalid Emmanuel