“I climbed Mount Everest and I did it all by myself.”
“Yeah mate, pics or it didn’t happen.”
The same logic applies to case studies. In business, it’s “case studies or it didn’t happen.” A well-written case study legitimizes your product or services. It proves the impact your actions have on the bottom line and is the single most important element of building trust amongst prospective clients.
But… How do you write a *perfect* case study? One that engages readers and makes them care about your offering and excited to work with you?
There’s no magic behind it. Just a proven, simple formula I’m about to share with you. Spend the next 7 minutes reading this guide and you’ll learn how to write case studies better than any case study you’ve created in the past.
Important caveat: this article explains how to write a case study for business purposes. If you’re interested in writing research case studies for academia, refer to this excellent guide by University of Southern California.
If, in turn, you’re struggling with putting together a medical case study, here’s a fantastic 101 by the BMJ. I’m not going to pretend I know better than these guys do.
What is a case study?
In business, a case study is a written description and analysis of how a company or a person approached a problem and what results they achieved. The most common type of a case study in a professional setting is a story detailing a partnership between a vendor and a client.
The purpose of a case study, usually, is to provide your prospective clients with specific examples of how your products or services can help solve business problems they might be facing. In short, case studies legitimize your business activities allowing you to go beyond explaining what you do and focus on how well you do it.
(And, in case you were wondering just HOW important case studies are, here’s an item of data to ponder: according to a DemandGen report, 78% of B2B buyers want to review case studies before making a purchase decision.)
For your reference, here’s an example of our very own case study, showing how, at Storydoc, we helped the Spot company boost some of their key metrics: Learn How Spot by NetApp boosted their conversion rates 2x
Full disclosure: the case study features promotional elements (and that’s precisely the point, more on that later).
Want to see the deck that helped them achieve such an amazing result? Check it out here:
Spot's team used this deck to boost their conversion 2x
By drawing the bigger picture even deep-tech software products can be easily explained.
See it live
Browse interactive case study templates
No matter how great the contents of your case study might be, if you fail to present it in an eye-pleasing way, most likely, no one will really read it.
The good news? I’ve put together a gallery of the most professional, attention-grabbing case study templates available online. You can find it here:
Or, take a shortcut to great case study design and use our presentation maker. Have a look below to see what your case study might look like.
And now, let’s get to the case study 101. (If you’re only interested in a specific section of a case study, simply click on a jump-to link in the table of contents below.)
Here's how to write a case study:
1. Open with an introductory overview
The last thing you want is for someone to open your case study, give it a quick glance, and decide to skip. See—
People don’t usually read case studies. At least not immediately. First, they skim the contents to see if the subject is relevant enough. How to make sure your case study sticks? At the beginning, place an introductory overview (also called an “executive summary”).
Provide an overview of the whole case. It’s not supposed to be a catchy intro but a full synopsis, detailing the problem at hand, your assumptions, the solutions implemented, and the results achieved.
How to write a case study introduction?
Introduce the purpose of the case study—specify exactly what you were aiming to achieve.
Define the problem or the most significant challenge. For instance, low conversion rates, a technological issue or high costs. (It could also be a combination of such factors!)
Explain briefly what the solution to the problem was.
Share the most important results your actions produced. Don’t go into too much detail, a few key points will do. It’s best if you can quantify the results: numbers pop!
Keep it short. Usually, 2–4 paragraphs + a few bullet points with key results will do.
While, as its name implies, this section comes at the beginning of your case study, write it last. First, craft the rest of your document, then pick the most important bits and compile them into the introductory overview.
2. Explain the problem in question
“Adam caught a flat tire. In the middle of the desert. He had no spare, no signal, no food, and only enough water to keep him alive for 48 hours.”
Oh dear, poor Adam! What could possibly be done to help him?!
See, in your case study, make the client seem like Adam so that, later on, you can paint your company like the miraculous savior.
Of course, I’m exaggerating, but only so much. The purpose of the “problem” section in a case study is to arouse emotions from the readers. Ideally, in such a way that they can picture themselves as Adam. Highlight a problem your product or services solve and present an example of when that problem was troubling a client really badly.
How to write a “problem” section in a case study?
In a single sentence, describe your customer’s business challenges and objectives.
Explain the problem your customer faced that prevented them from achieving those objectives prior to working with you.
If that was the case, mention other solutions your client experimented with that didn’t work out and explain why.
Make it clear how the issue or problem impacted the client’s business results so that it’s easy to understand why a solution was badly needed.
3. Detail the solutions implemented to solve the problem
Here comes the moment to toot your own horn a bit (and also that moment when you can get slightly technical). Present your solutions in reference to the issue your client was dealing with and make it obvious that those are easily replicable for all future cases.
Of course, the exact formula for this section will depend on your industry and mode of operation. Sometimes a 2–3 paragraph summary will be enough, in other cases, you’ll need to include more detailed technical specs regarding the solution you implemented.
How to write a solutions section in a case study?
Focus on your customer’s experience in using your product or services.
Explain the process: say how long it took to get the solution up and running and what teams on your customer’s end were involved.
Highlight the features of your product or service that turned out to be the most beneficial to your customer.
If possible, attach or link to relevant assets that will work as real-life examples of your solution (unless, of course, the information is highly sensitive).
Always run your case study by your client’s marketing team before you go live. Even if you’re using direct quotes or verifiable results, it’s ultimately their decision whether or not to make certain information freely available.
4. Refer to key results
In business, nothing speaks louder than ROI and you know it. Prospective customers reading your case study won’t be bothered to take notice of your state-of-the-art technology or innovative approach. Neither will they care about your past customers’ happiness.
What they want to know is this:
Will that help me save or make money?
When writing a case study, your job is to present results in a way that answers the above question with a resounding YES. You need to make it blatantly obvious that your solutions heavily impact the bottom line of the client in question and that such results are easily replicable.
Here’s how to write about results:
In a few bullet points, list numerical results your solution delivered to the client.
Ideally, you’ll want to include revenue-related data: increase in clients’ base, more demos booked, higher conversion rates, or optimized pricing.
If you can’t (or aren’t allowed to) share hard sales numbers, refer to softer KPIs: time saved, customer happiness scores, expanding the community, or enhancing brand visibility.
If possible, by all means include quotes from your client. Results should speak for themselves, obviously, but showing the real human whose problems you solved makes for a much more powerful narrative. Plus, it further adds credibility to the case study. Start by preparing a list of powerful case study questions to guide your client interviews.
5. Finish with recommendations and next steps
Everyone enjoys a solid epilogue. To end on a high note, include a list of key findings from your case study. Even if a given reader won’t decide to get in touch with you, at least you’ll provide them with a valuable source of knowledge—sometimes that’s enough to keep your company top of mind in the future.
Plus, if you’re planning to continue working with the subject of your case study, definitely mention that! It shows that your support is valuable enough to warrant long-term collaboration, not just a one-off endeavor.
Now, not every case study requires a call to action (especially if your main purpose is to inform and educate rather than convert, which is okay, too), but for those more commercially-oriented ones, do add it.
Make your CTA singular and clear—if the most desired action is to reach out to you, leave your contact details, if you’d rather direct prospects to a landing page or a welcome screen, add a button.
And that’s a wrap!
Here are the key points to keep in mind when writing a case study:
Put an introductory overview at the beginning.
Present the problem you were solving and your exact solutions to that problem.
Include numerical, verifiable results your product or services delivered for the client.
Explain what the next steps are, especially if you plan to continue working with the client.
Finish with a strong, clear CTA, making it easy for prospects to reach out to you.
Thanks for reading the guide. Keeping my fingers crossed for your case study and wishing many successful cases so that you’ll always have something to write about.
Table of contents
What is a case study? Browse interactive case study templates How to write a case study
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