One of my favorite types of blog post is the case study – a personalized story of success or failure (or otherwise interesting or unexpected results). As blog posts go, it’s not as easy to churn out as a “top 5” post (ahem), but you can learn so much more from them. It’s often easier to take something actionable away from specific examples and real stories than vague abstractions, so a well-written case study is a great way to get attention and links. As an added benefit, a case study is always unique, whereas standard tip posts are often just reproducing information you can find elsewhere on the web.

If you haven’t considered writing this type of content before, I encourage you to give it a shot! Think about a specific strategy you implemented recently that really knocked it out of the park – or completely flopped. Then share why you think it worked or didn’t work. Alternatively, write a case study from the outside – often, other businesses succeed or fail in the public eye, and an outsider’s perspective on the reasons is just as valuable as insider analysis.

To get you inspired, here are five great marketing case studies:

Is a mention without a link worth anything? It can be! This case study from the Level Ten Design blog recounts the effects on a client’s traffic after Selena Gomez mentioned the business on Twitter. The author guesses that the reach of that tweet, including retweets, was well over a million, and the site’s analytics saw a huge boost in organic traffic and brand-related keyword searches (what he called “a halo effect”).

#2: Squeeze Page Optimization: How to Get 700 Free Leads and a 64% Conversion Rate

Viper Chill (Glen Alsop) has written a ton of case studies on his blog – after a while, all his success gets annoying. (Just kidding.) This one is an analysis of a squeeze page he created that had an extraordinarily high conversion rate of 64%. The offer was a free e-book, but there was a catch: “In order for people to get the guide (you guessed it) they had to Tweet or Facebook share a link to my website.” This ended up sending hundreds of additional visitors.

#3: The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

I’m sure you’ve heard of The 4-Hour Workweek, even if you haven’t read it – it’s one of those books that feels like it topped the bestseller lists on the basis of name alone. Did you know that Timothy Ferriss tested the title using AdWords? He created campaigns for six prospective titles. The title with the best click-through rate was the winner. Read more about this clever idea on the weiji blog (weiji is the Chinese word for crisis, formed from the words for “danger” and “opportunity”).

#4: Is Optimizing Photos More Important Than You Think?

This recent post from the SEOmoz blog by Kasy Allen addresses “the importance of correctly labeling your photos” as opposed to just using keywords: “if you fill the alt tag with nothing but keywords, how are people going to get the images that they really need? Do I want ‘world’s best tortilla soup recipe ever’ or do I want ‘thick tortilla soup recipe?’” She does a test search to discover what else Google is looking for when crawling and ranking images.

#5: Conversion Psychology #1: Why Stealing Grapes is Good for Your Form Conversions [Case Study]

This case study by Oli Gardner describes a test that improved newsletter opt-in conversion by 12%. How? By including a preview. Oli attributes this to the same psychology that drives us to steal a grape before we buy a full bunch.

Image (“whatsinyourbag”) via Joi Ito