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Case studies are among the many tools that brands use to build trust by portraying themselves as knowledgeable. Organizations leverage case studies to educate, convince on-the-fence buyers, reinforce their existing clients’ preconceptions and strengthen their claims about new projects or products.

Brand credibility is a crucial component of most marketing strategies, and the best case studies promote brand authority. Many outreach experts use these projects to build trust as a means of forging ties with consumers and encouraging engagement. It’s far simpler to convince people that a product or service is beneficial when they’re already receptive to having a conversation. Keep reading to find out how case studies help with this and how to put them to good use.

What Exactly Is A Case Study?


Marketers who promote inaccurate study results as being authentic may lose credibility, so it’s important to draw some quick distinctions.

The origins of case studies lie in academic research procedures. Like the well-known scientific method, the typical case study methodology adheres to a semi-formal, structured plan.

Case studies are purpose-driven, logical research papers created with a few key goals. As noted by the University of Southern California Libraries and the Ashford University Writing Center, they


  • Identify a small number of under-explored and interrelated problems, or cases, and discuss their origins,

  • Describe how these issues are important based on the impact they have on people, stakeholders, organizations, communities and other groups,

  • Present a variety of potential new solutions and explore their foundations in prior research,

  • Reveal the research techniques utilized to evaluate the options, and

  • Use strong, evidence-based reasoning to compare the solutions and present a compelling argument for the most effective or efficient one.


 
Advertisers, entrepreneurs and SEO managers who stick to this or a similar case study structure can make their experimenting, testing and conclusion-drawing more reliable. By publicizing the results and backing up their assertions with research, they increase their credibility.

Good writing makes complex logic easier to grasp. Polished, organized case studies let readers see that brands genuinely put in the hard work, which builds loyalty.

What Isn’t a Case Study?


Business leaders who want to win over investors, partners and knowledge-hungry prosumers must distinguish themselves. Although the term case study has come into widespread use, not every marketing effort or piece of digital content that claims to be one actually hits the mark.

Yes, brands can present their case studies informally, and such strategies often help complicated topics flow more smoothly. Don’t make the mistake, however, of confusing creative marketing presentation with solid inductive reasoning. Sound data, clarity and complete arguments inevitably outweigh filler.

Although case studies make fantastic advertising, they function best when they maintain their impartiality. It may be easier to accomplish this reliably when someone else is in the driver’s seat presenting the facts. Outsourcing a case study is a widely accepted means of making an argument in an approachable way that invites further engagement.

 
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Getting to Know a Few Different Types of Case Studies


Those who want to improve their SEO rankings can take their case study cues from classic public relations, or PR, theory, which offers three common approaches to choose from:

1. Linear studies

Linear studies present their cases as unique problems. By analyzing their histories in detail, they let readers follow along naturally and reinforce their conclusions.
 

Linear Case Studies
 

2. Process-oriented case studies

Process-oriented case studies view the case as a small piece of a greater PR whole. They focus on specific components of a marketing machine or business model with the goal of improving custom key performance indicators, or KPIs. For instance, this marketer used a Textbroker case study to analyze how different digital content strategies could increase their site traffic and revenue.
 

Process-oriented Case Studies
 

3. Grounded case studies

Grounded case studies forgo filler discussion in favor of focusing on specific, well-known or easily relatable business objectives. Here’s how Textbroker helped one SEO agency use a case study to target top-10 Google rankings.

Grounded Case Studies


People also encounter many other flavors of case study out in the wild. Some linear background studies are more descriptive or illustrative, sticking to the basics to introduce problems to unfamiliar audiences, such as research efforts geared at selling new business methods or unique B2B solutions. Cumulative studies build knowledge from independent inquiries conducted at different times and places in the hopes of producing generally applicable results.

Case studies can also vary in their depth and the number of questions they answer. Some “critical instance” methodologies work to shed light on cause-and-effect situations by sticking to a well-defined set of limited circumstances. Others, known as pilot studies, are quick examinations of whether a more exhaustive investigation might be useful.

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Creative Considerations

The three basic categories above are just one system of classifying case studies. In reality, there are various ways to design, execute and share research.

Brands have free rein to use an array of tactics that might make their insights seem compelling, and they can blend case study approaches as needed. For instance, a marketer might combine a linear case analysis of a particular SEO topic, such as search engine results page rankings and the history of the Google algorithm, with a more process-oriented experimental method designed to solve an existing search marketing deficiency.

One important thing to remember is that no matter their type, practical case studies actively distinguish themselves from other research. They shouldn’t merely rehash old concepts, and when they do discuss prior work, they need to bring something new to the table.

Good research content attracts readers by explaining why a problem is worth solving and how a proposed solution differs from past attempts before wrapping things up conclusively. Although case studies can touch on many different topics, they need to have strong underlying themes throughout, and working with an expert writer can help these currents rise to the surface.

 
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How to Conduct a Case Study


Structuring a case study in advance is just as important as writing about it after the results are in. It’s critical to begin by dissecting the case to highlight the salient points and key details that make it of particular interest. This means
 

  • Identifying the problems and their origins, responsible parties or contributing factors,

  • Describing what benefits might come from solving the problem,

  • Presenting some possible answers and discussing prior solution attempts,

  • Explaining the method used in the research, and

  • Discussing the most viable solution based on logic and reasoning.


 
While outlining a new case study, it’s a good idea to go through all of the steps no matter whether someone else will be doing the actual writing work. The following are a few planning details to bear in mind.

 

 

1

The Introduction: Identify the Problems and Their Origins

Some obstacles seem obvious to those familiar with the situation. Even without looking at the numbers, business owners often sense when something isn’t lucrative. Other problems demand supplemental research and fresh perspectives to identify. For instance, businesses with complex processes or shareholders with deeply ingrained beliefs may not realize that they’re making missteps that limit their efficiency or profitability.

It’s impossible to know where readers are coming from, so err on the side of caution. Don’t assume that people understand, recognize or even care about the problem. Instead, show them why they should.

 
Identifying a Case Worthy of Examination
 
Research efforts can expand in many different directions, but they all begin with the selection of unique topics that deserve exploration. Those having trouble getting started often find it helpful to open up communication channels with current stakeholders.

For instance, imagine that an online apparel sales firm decides to collaborate with a business shipping partner or bulk retail buyer and present a case study about the results. By working with the other company, they could get their hands on real-world data that attests to the efficacy of an existing solution, such as their order fulfillment or dropshipping options.

Collaboration works well because both parties can benefit from publicity, but the advantages of broader perspectives run even deeper. Marketers gain unique insights into how their products and services might solve problems that they didn’t even know existed. In the SEO world, this is often the case when brands hook up with influencers that already use their solutions.

 
Disclosing Biases and Background Knowledge
 
The case study intro is also the place to share things like the writer’s background with the issue and potential biases. By disclosing matters like potential conflicts of interest from the start, brands increase the trustworthiness of their work. Sharing the company’s expertise can also help readers see why a firm might be particularly well-suited to addressing the problem.

 

2

The Background: Discuss the Potential Benefits of Solving the Problem

The background section may or may not be distinct from the introduction. In addition to demonstrating that the brand has investigated the underlying cause of the problem, it makes a strong case for why it’s worth all of the effort.

Pointing out why a problem needs solving isn’t just about being persuasive. Whether they’re explaining SEO campaign proposals or seeking funding for asset acquisitions, business leaders need to convince others that their ideas merit the hard work, time and money that their implementation will inevitably require. Not everyone is guaranteed to share the same perspectives about which issues deserve top billing, so it’s wise to define some priorities.

 
Choice Details Can Make Research More Exciting and Relevant
 
Sharing the motivations behind a case study can also convince a reader to get on board. For example, a company that conducts a preliminary case study while debuting a product in a test market might point out how the item solves a known problem, betters the lives of its users or makes the business more stable.

In the government arena, such motivation-driven case studies might use publicly available data to show how something like poor water quality adversely impacts a population and establish goals like improving people’s health. A PR firm or SEO agency that works with charity clients could assess how local access to internet services increases the likelihood of needy people requesting assistance. The same researchers might choose a study objective like spreading awareness. No matter what the specific case circumstances involve, settling on a clear goal early on is a hallmark of high-quality writing and communication.

 

 

3

Alternatives and Literature Review: Explore the State of Current Research and Potential Answers

Why do good case studies all delve into prior attempts and examinations? Establishing a foundation that people feel comfortable with is all about context. After all, arguments are easier to follow when they start on common ground.

 
Get on Equal Footing With the Audience
 
Since credibility is the overarching theme, try to overcome trust boundaries by sharing conclusions drawn from other research. Whether they’re prone to disagree or agree, people are more likely to listen and open themselves up to possibilities when they see that the author took the time to do their homework. Acknowledging previous assessments and setting aside a few paragraphs to review their meanings builds authority by putting brands in good company. These steps also clarify how the latest case study is something new and interesting.

Tone is essential. Audiences may be more receptive to writers that respect their intelligence. Bringing them into the discourse by discussing the background is the best way to show them they’re being taken seriously, and nothing wins readers over like making them feel included in the dialogue. Always find reputable sources, cite research and use links or footnotes to make it easy for others to comprehend the line of reasoning.

 
Lead Into Possible Solutions
 
Discussing past research is also a great springboard for talking about potential answers. Some solutions may seem like the logical answers to a specific problem, but they can be ruled out immediately if old data already shows they don’t work. Integrating this step into the early conceptualization stages might help brands avoid wild goose chases and focus on the most lucrative avenues of investigation.

Companies may also discuss their own prior case studies, as is done in cumulative research. Combining multiple research initiatives into one overarching logical synthesis makes it way easier to compare different experimental results cohesively.

Credibility also comes from avoiding leaps of faith. Connecting new proposals to proven track records rooted in trial and error, empirical evidence gathering, big data assessments or other forms of exploration eliminates the need for logical jumps. If an author can provide examples of how others approached the issue, they’ll have a much easier time making their strategy appear sound by comparison.

Of course, consumers and other audiences must be able to keep up with the discussion to understand why each of the solutions might be a good idea. People can follow the narrative with far greater ease when brands treat them to high-quality written work that’s enjoyable to read.

 

4

Method: Choose the Most Viable Answer

Conducting a case study demands orderly experimentation. After putting forth their theories and proposals in the literature review, writers should take the time to explain how they evaluated the viability of each option.

 
Picking Criteria
 
What makes a good solution? It all depends on the brand’s objectives, and the background section is a good place to look for clues. Many study authors base their judgment criteria on the case impacts that they’ve already identified. For instance, if a case study starts by stating how a problem adversely affects conversions, click-throughs, social media engagements or other SEO metrics, it would make sense to evaluate conclusions that improve said metrics.

Choosing standards that readers can understand easily is essential to making a point. This means that clear, in-depth explanations are vital. The best writing convinces audiences that the author’s criteria were sound. Even if the readers wouldn’t necessarily reach the same conclusions on their own, they’ll still respect the validity of the results. Take the time to establish a baseline before diving into the actual explanation of how the research worked.

 
Disclosing the Methodology
 
This part of a case study needs to go into a detailed description of the experimental techniques employed to test the different alternatives. For instance, a marketing company that wants to show how its content placement strategy or web design standards make it easier for consumers to use an e-commerce shopping cart might perform an A/B test that presents users with a limited number of different layouts and then tracks which page elements they interact with most. Other potential KPIs might include things like how many transactions get completed or the number of shopping carts that get abandoned with each site design version.

 
What Makes a Method Robust?
 
Methodological discussion fulfills the important role of making research seem more reliable. While there are a few stylistic options for exploring this topic, it’s important to address as many concerns as possible.

The method section is often the weakest part of poorly executed case studies because it can be dry and less exciting than other areas. This doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable to rush through it or skip key details. Method discussions should always
 


  • Concretely establish why the method was appropriate for solving the problem at hand,

  • Describe how the researchers controlled for potentially confusing factors or conflicting data sources,

  • Detail how the research identified experimental data points and tracked them throughout the study to establish a baseline of normalcy and highlight noteworthy deviations,

  • Illustrate how the researchers or brand tested different options on an even playing field,

  • Walk people through the major findings or results, and

  • Acknowledge the limitations that could have hampered the accuracy of the study.


 
This last item is particularly important. If audiences are likely to criticize any part of a case study, the methodology is an obvious target.

Contrary to popular belief, companies shouldn’t try to obscure or minimize so-called bad data. Being transparent about the flaws that hampered research grants the work more gravitas by showing that it compensated for these issues. Nobody expects brands to get everything 100 percent correct, but everybody loves working with companies that admit their mistakes and explain how they’re working to improve and overcome human error.

If marketers didn’t already disclose their biases, then this is an excellent time to start, but be careful. Although readers appreciate this kind of sharing, it’s important to stay on topic, so keep it to the point by connecting prejudices and leanings to specific research flaws instead of just writing them out as a general list of sins. Outsourcing the work to a professional writer might make it easier to step back, look at the big picture and identify the most appropriate place for disclosures.

 

Choosing the right answer

 

5

Discussion and Conclusions: Drawing Lessons From the Key Findings

Different people can draw distinct conclusions from the same data, so the final part of a case study is about persuasion. Unfortunately, people often skip to the end before reading the entire story, and longer case studies may lose distracted audiences before the final curtain. Good writing makes readers’ lives easier by adhering to this basic case-study conclusion outline:


  • Restate the problem and the major findings. This section should be a few brief paragraphs that focus on the most striking points.

  • Synthesize what the findings might mean in a non-recap format that looks for greater meaning without falling into the trap of overgeneralizing the results or trying to apply them in ways that don’t make sense

  • Discuss what makes a conclusion realistic or viable. For instance, a brand might share how it’s going to fund a new project or implement changes to its current workflows instead of rethinking its entire operating model.

  • Share some possible pros and cons of the chosen solution and recommendations for accomplishing it in a way that achieves the stated goals.

  • Describe a brief, actionable plan that identifies what comes next, such as assigning new job roles to a stakeholder, shoring up the theory with further research or releasing a product to a larger test audience.

 

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Be Sure to Remain Impartial

Impartial conclusions drive trust to new heights by addressing multiple sides of an argument. Entrepreneurs who want their findings to resonate with people explore their ideas openly and make it clear how they’ll act upon them, but this isn’t always straightforward for people who happen to be invested in the outcome. Third-party writing makes it a lot simpler to maintain the appropriate level of distance from the results, which benefits both brands and their audiences by making the insights more profound and robust

 
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Writing About a Case Study


There are many ways to create a high-impact review of a case study. At a minimum, however, such analyses need to be complete and expertly crafted to draw out the most effective talking points. They should uncover advertising insights that have sufficient power to drive continued action by the brand or motivate consumers to engage.

How do outreach-conscious brands report on their case studies? There are a few different ways to create content that makes ripples in media like blogs, articles and social media posts:

Self-created reports

Self-created reports follow a variety of DIY approaches, so they offer lots of flexibility. Although they’re good tools for portraying results while maintaining a brand’s natural voice, they can make it hard to keep up the semblance of impartiality.
 

Self Created Reports
 

Reports written by freelance writers

Reports written by freelance writers help brands present their methodologies, findings and conclusions in a more academic format that stands up to exacting scrutiny without faltering. As long as brands find writers who have the necessary background or research skills to familiarize themselves with the topic, this is a good way to produce high-polish work.
 

Freelance Writers
 

Independent marketing agencies

Independent marketing agencies conduct research and report on the results for many brands. The viability of such solutions depends on how well the agency communicates with the brand’s leaders to keep the project on track.
 

Call Marketing Agencies
 

Online platforms

Online platforms like Textbroker let people combine the freelancer and agency approaches to create case studies that carry more authoritative weight. Working with a comprehensive managed content provider also makes it a lot easier to market the study and spread the word.

Different online writing platforms

How to Market a Case Study Intelligently


Case studies can’t polish every rough concept into a gem, but they definitely help weed out the most viable answers and establish brands as thought leaders. When promoting a research project, it’s important to keep this concept in mind: Good case study marketing isn’t about promoting with reckless abandon but rather targeting the audiences most likely to find the information insightful and useful.

How can companies market their studies effectively? Here are a few clever ideas:


  • Publishing the case study on a brand website as a PDF is a good way to disseminate the material in an easily shareable format. These documents double as highly effective promotional aids at industry meetings and trade events.

  • Promoting studies on social media is a must in this day and age. Well-crafted posts that each highlight one or two key findings and link back to the full body of the case study make the work far more accessible to readers and pique their interest with juicy takeaways.

  • As many case studies promoted by the American Marketing Association demonstrate, news-format articles and press-release-style blogs can make case studies far more digestible. By sharing the main results along with explanatory graphs and some of the conclusions, these posts act as high-value content that introduces people to something new.

  • Infographics, videos and other visual media make amazing attention-grabbers. These formats can dramatically improve the odds that someone will sit through a discussion of the numbers. When executed properly, they’re primed for virality that draws more traffic back to the brand and its work.

Conceptualizing, executing, discussing and sharing findings may seem like a lot of work, but they’re essential parts of using studies for the maximum effect. Brands that want to convince the public that they’re good at what they do recognize the value of professional case study writing and comprehensive marketing strategies.

 
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