Your company’s best advocates aren’t in your marketing department; they’re your current customers. Customer success stories are among the top five most popular forms of content marketing, and 64% of B2B marketers consider them the single most effective form of custom content. Consumer research is more self-directed than ever before, and case studies are a powerful way to demonstrate real applications of your product or service without a hard sell.
Here are some ways to write stories that convert:
1. Avoid Jargon
Case studies are typically a tool for product research; studies by Google confirm that 62% of B2B decision makers use search as a tool for finding customer success stories. Use the papers as a platform for demonstrating expertise, but avoid using highly technical language that will alienate any prospects.
2. Be Objective
Nothing will cause your company to lose credibility faster than a biased case study. Stick to the facts, and let quantitative figures demonstrate customer success stories, not your opinion.
3. Incorporate Quotations
Social proof is a powerful tool for swaying company perception; consumers trust family and friends above any form of paid media. Use quotations from your clients to emulate the recommendation your prospects would receive from a professional peer or acquaintance.
4. Give Background Information
Customer success stories should follow the traditional format of a narrative, which means it’s critical that you provide a conflict. Illustrate how your customer’s life or business was different before they made the purchase to provide context.
5. Provide Sign Posts
Whether you’re going to be using the case study as a blog article or download, it’s essential to format the content optimally for skimming. You can adjust the titles of your sections, or provide more-granular sub headers, but the typical format of a customer success story is:
6. Be Specific
Customer success stories aren’t very effective if you stick to demonstrating that your product worked. Leverage the principles of good journalism, and reveal why it worked, how the customer implemented the solution, when they saw results, and why they were pleased.
7. Be Transparent
Your prospects and customers are highly jaded to biased marketing messages, and nothing will raise suspicions faster than a report that seems exaggerated, or inaccurate. Double check your data, and have a third-party proof read for any signs of bias.
8. Use Visual Content
Charts and graphs are a valuable component of customer success stories. Visualize the results of your case study with accurate and eye-catching images.
9. Make Your Customers Relatable
Even if your product or services are relevant to a wide market, target your case studies towards your ideal customer by making the companies or people profile highly relatable.
10. Consider Different Formats
Your customer success stories can be recycled into a number of different formats to appeal to all learning styles. In addition to a whitepaper, film a video, create an infographic, or record a podcast.
11. Keep It Short
One of the biggest challenges in writing an effective case study is conveying all relevant information in as few words as possible. Subject matter expert Matthew Stibe recommends 500 words as an optimal length.
12. Be Accurate
An exaggerated or sloppy customer success story can damage your professional credibility, and relationships with your most valuable clients. Record interviews with clients to ensure you accurately transcribe their thoughts, and allow customers to approve the copy before publication.
13. Address Buyer Readiness
To write a case study that converts prospects into customers, address your client’s thoughts and emotions during the buyer readiness cycle. What factors of your product or service cemented their decision to purchase from you, as opposed to your competition?
14. Include a Standfirst
Your case study introductions may be the most-valuable component of the customer success story; copywriter Tom Albrington recommends writing a “standfirst paragraph” last that includes key facts and takeaways, as well as an intriguing introductory sentence.
15. Call Out Text
Highlight your customer’s best quotations in text call-out boxes, to draw attention to the social proof of their success. Alternatively, integrate quotations with images, as illustrated below:
Image Credit: Master3DImage
16. Use Compelling Images
Stock photos are typically 95% less effective at converting leads and customers than images of real people. Avoid generic pictures of happy colleagues, or company logos. Use images of your actual customer to build instant trust with your audience.
17. Recycle Quotations
Cross-promote your customer success stories on multiple social media platforms, by using their quotations as material for social media posts, or as testimonials on your LinkedIn Company page.
18. Edit for Brevity
Effective customer success stories balance the need to provide a 360-degree view of the story, and tell a compelling narrative. Edit the content carefully for brevity, and remove any factors or steps that don’t add value. As Albington points out, “length does not equal value, so don’t add content for its own sake.”
19. Address Budget and ROI
For virtually every buyer persona, cost is a sensitive issue. Address specifically how the customer managed to save money, bring in more revenue, or achieve greater efficiency with your company’s help.
20. Avoid Excessive Statistics
While data can be the difference between a convincing customer success story and one that leaves little impression, avoid using too many facts and figures. Instead, pick the numbers that best address your buyer personas pain points to ensure each number has maximum impact.
21. Be Transparent about Your Data
Most customer success stories don’t need tables and appendices that illustrate every data point used to quantify results. However, briefly disclose how you reached your results, whether it was through Google Analytics, Salesforce reports, or another method.
22. Write a Powerful Conclusion
In addition to summarizing results, Michael Martinez recommends taking a few sentences to place your customer success story in context. Is there any industry-wide data you can compare the final outcome to?
23. Consider Peer Review
In the realm of science, peer review is a critical component of the publication process. The scientific method dictates that every researcher has biases; whether they realize it or not, and a third-party can often identify inadvertent issues with the analysis. Consider having a third-party review your case study for grammar, and any language or data that seems biased or inaccurate.
24. Reward Your Customers
Even if your client’s commitment to the case study didn’t require anything more than answering a few questions via email, be sure to thank them for acting as a company advocate. Cross-promote their content on your social media channels, or offer a discount for their help to your marketing strategy.
25. Encourage Social Sharing
The best case studies have the power to spread like wildflower. Encourage your website visitors to share the case study by providing social integration and sharing buttons.
80% of consumers are swayed by recommendations from real people and companies, even if they don’t know them. Customer success stories have the potential to lend credibility to your company’s solutions and enhance your sales
What do you think about writing customer success stories? What’s the most challenging for you in this process? What personal tips for writing great case studies can you share with us?