The tech case study works as a multi-purpose piece of content.
It's a digital marketing tool that also boosts your brand, builds and reinforces customer relationships, and provides proof of your product’s effectiveness. But it can only do these things if you put it together in the right way.
The perfect tech case study combines a compelling, storytelling structure with useful data, customer testimonials, and a clear call to action.
Selecting a subject for your case study
First, you need to choose which case study to write up.
But how to choose? You need a case study with the right outcome and evidence, obviously. But also consider what type of customer it involves and how they compare with the audience you want to target. Ideally, the customer you’ve helped will have something in common with the prospective customer you want to attract.
Always think strategically. Yes, it’s important to focus on a satisfied customer and a good outcome, but how can you use these elements as effective leverage in your case study?
Lastly, but importantly, make sure you have the customer's approval if you're going to publish details about the work you've done for them. Otherwise, if you have to leave too much information out, the finished content can be too vague to appear convincing.
How to structure your case study
The name, case study, is deceptive. It sounds like it should be something a bit dry and matter of fact. Don’t fall into this trap.
In crime fiction, whether in books, films or television, the narrative usually centres on a case. Yes, it will contain evidence, but presented in such a way as to drive the story forward and suck you into the plot.
Bear this in mind when you structure your case study.
Here are the four chief elements:
What does a crime story begin with? A crime. Similarly, start your tech case study by outlining the problem.
What was the issue that your client was looking to solve? Look for the most dramatic angle here. If, for example, they needed an app to make certain processes more efficient, what were the consequences of not having this?
Were they losing their market share to competitors, or finding their margins eroding?
Next is the discovery stage. The detective work. How did you investigate the issue? What insights did this investigation provide?
This stuff is vital because it demonstrates your methodology and how you empathise with your customers.
Then you come to the solution. What did you develop that would solve the customer’s problem? How did you do it and were there any obstacles you needed to overcome?
Obstacles are good for adding drama to the narrative. Think back to the detective story comparison. There's always a degree of uncertainty and jeopardy that the protagonist experiences while solving the case.
Finally, there's the outcome. Ideally, you need more than a satisfied customer here. You want this to be something that resonates. Did your solution save them money, or enable them to invest in fresh talent or equipment? How did it improve their standing in the marketplace?
The outcome and legacy provide proof of the effectiveness of your product or service.
Making your case study more dramatic
There are plenty of examples of successful films that begin with the ending. Some screenwriters favour this approach because it provides an instant hook for the viewer. It also builds anticipation from the outset.
You can apply this structure to a case study:
- How company x became a market leader in y
- How this app helped company x save thousands in lost revenue
- Why company x has been able to invest in tech apprenticeships.
Begin with the legacy, even including it in the title of your case study. Then go back to the beginning to explain the problem and how you helped your customer overcome it.
How important is data?
Including data adds meat to the bones of your case study.
If you can provide figures to show how much money your tech solution has saved a customer, for example, then this offers excellent supporting evidence.
Where you can run into difficulties is if the customer doesn’t want to reveal this information.
Confidentiality is crucial for some companies, but it doesn’t have to hamper your case study.
Remember, if you can't publish figures, you shouldn’t over-compensate by padding out the story.
You can still make the business case for your solution, and for many prospects, this will still be highly relatable. Always highlight the problem and shape it in terms that have an appeal beyond the specific customer you helped.
Why should you include testimonials?
Quotes from the customer add an extra element of proof to your case study.
Providing you select these carefully, they can also help the reader empathise more strongly with the customer and their issues.
This is a critical aspect of writing a tech case study. You want the reader to see things from the customer’s viewpoint. Ultimately, they should see how you could help them in the same way you've helped the customer in the case study.
Try to encourage your customer to give testimonials that have some detail and go beyond stating how good you’ve been. You don’t want them to come across as vanity elements that detract from the credibility of your case study.
Your call to action
This is the bit where you step out of the narrative and address your audience directly.
Once you’ve gone to the effort of piecing together your case study, you must maximise its effectiveness.
You can’t do this unless you’re clear about what you want your reader to do once they’ve read it.
It provides a natural end to your story but should plant the seed of suggestion in the minds of your audience that they can find out more about your work and how it might benefit them.
Be bold, and consider adding a call to action earlier in the case study, after your introductory paragraphs.
Your case study shouldn’t be simply a routine piece of content, but something that will support you strategically. Writing it requires a considered, professional approach to maximise its impact.
How can you transform your content into effective tools for marketing and brand building? Talk to the Prize Content team.