How to write an engaging case study: PART 1

By Clare Bagshaw

I am sure you have had similar experiences to me in reading case studies – often you read the first few paragraphs only to toss the article aside, unable to identify with the issue, see any relevance or interest in the article, or find it nothing more than a company’s hyped up sales pitch.

On the other hand there are those case studies that grab you from the first sentence and draw you in. By the end of the article you have related the situation to your own and are running over potential solutions in your head.

If you are charged with writing case studies, it is obviously pretty important that they fall into the second category or you may not have your job for long! Let’s look at how you can make your case studies more effective.

This is part one of a two part blog post in which we'll look at writing an effective case study and provide some handy best practices you can follow.

For a start, an effective case study is written from the reader’s perspective, not from your company’s.

A case study must use hard facts and clearly define:

  1. The problem the customer was trying to address
  2. How they addressed the problem
  3. What the results to the problem were

Best practices in case study development

Generally there are a few best practices that can make the difference between creating an engaging and effective case study or one that warrants only a cursory glance. Remember to consider these as you begin to compile your case study:

  • Make sure you understand your target audience (see our previous blog post: If you wish to persuade me… speak my words) and then ensure your case study is focussed on an issue that has a significant impact on them. What are the problems that your solution solves? 

  • Support your case study with hard numbers and facts. Where applicable use charts, figures, tables or statistics to enhance credibility, but be careful not to overload with these. 

  • Avoid technical jargon or proprietary terms, remember you are writing this from the reader’s perspective, not your company's.

  • Insert names, titles and quotes from customers or partners involved. This will help to personalise the article and lend credibility.

  • Where possible and relevant be sure to include the expected and achieved return on investment or pay off, benefit etc. This will provide the reader with a carrot, so-to-speak, and may encourage them to contact you.

Consideration of these best practices will help ensure you are on the right track to creating an effective and engaging case study that not only draws in your target audience, but encourages them to contact you to provide solutions to their problems.

Next post we'll provide you with a break down of key sections you should focus on and wrap it up in a downloadable 'cheat sheet' you can keep on hand...