Why Case Studies are a Necessity for B2B
B2B companies have certainly come a long way when it comes to content marketing strategy. As of 2019, 93% of the most successful B2B content marketers are extremely committed to content marketing, the vast majority of which put audiences’ informational needs above a promotional message.
There’s good reason to focus on informational content: The B2B buyer’s journey is only getting longer and more complex, according to Demand Gen Report. This is due to a myriad of reasons, but especially the fact that more time is being spent researching purchases and conducting a detailed ROI analysis.
What does this mean for B2B marketers? For starters, you need to have content that satisfies inquiries during each stage of the buying process, from top-of-the-funnel blog posts to in-depth whitepapers. Each content type plays a role in moving leads down the funnel, from awareness to evaluation and (hopefully!) a purchase.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in either creating content that performs well in search or creating in-depth gated assets that bring in leads. Case studies and client testimonials often don’t fit into the SEO-friendly or lead generation buckets (many have argued the case for keeping these assets ungated) and for that reason, could fall to the wayside for B2B content programs.
You’ve probably guessed it by now given the topic of this post, but the truth is this content plays a critical role in the latter phases of the buying process: 41% of respondents agreed case studies or testimonials were critical to the vendor evaluation process. If you’re not convinced to dial the phone and get a valued customer testimonial yet, there’s more to come.
Let’s dig into the benefits of case studies for B2B:
Showcase Your Product & Capabilities
One of the more obvious benefits of having customer case studies on your site is showcasing what your product/solution is and the tangible value it brings to your customers.
Though you most certainly will have other content that serves this purpose, the very nature of case study content (straight to the point, data-driven, visually appealing) means that readers can access this information quickly and easily, without any fluff.
At the end of the day, case studies serve to tell the story of a specific customer’s success, so many traditional storytelling elements do apply. Don’t just state results without explaining how the customer got there.
Here’s a good example from Accenture — the case study digs into the customer’s challenge, strategy, and results with a clear and concise design.
For the biggest impact, bring readers through the process of vendor evaluation (and what factors led to them choosing you), challenges (and how your solution helped overcome them), strategies (what tactics were implemented) and, of course, what the results were. Focus on ROI, revenue growth, and other financial metrics to have the biggest impact.
- KEY TAKEAWAY: Tell a good story, but keep it concise & data-driven.
By their very nature, case studies establish your credibility as a company with real customers that saw real results. Take advantage of direct customer quotes to further cultivate this.
The reason for doing so is simple: It’s one thing to explain how great your product is and how it helped the client; it’s quite another to have a direct quote from the VP saying so. This is especially true when it comes to the qualitative elements of your story, like how your solution impacted internal processes or efficiency.
Take this example from one of our recent case studies:
“The impact this work had on our business was significant,” says the VP. “Our team is small. Without KoMarketing overseeing the strategic big picture, as well as the dozens of day-to-day details, we’d have a hard time achieving the same results, which includes terrific rankings and a big increase in the right kind of traffic.”
You can tell a much richer story with quotes vs. just copy.
If you have a well-known customer that’s willing to let you use their name, that does help to establish your credibility as well. But, don’t wait for a high-profile client to develop a case study. Fantastic results will also speak in volumes.
- KEY TAKEAWAY: Use customer quotes & well-known clients when possible.
Move Leads Through the Funnel
Without customer testimonials, the content on your site will only get you so far in the buying process. When it comes to that final step — evaluation — prospective customers want to see peer reviews and know that your product has solved a similar company’s challenge or pain point.
Before sitting down to write, take the time to understand your target audiences’ core questions and business needs. The goal is to create a case study story that speaks to the vast majority of your audience — you don’t want an example so specific that it doesn’t apply to other prospective customers.
Now, let’s say you’ve done all the work. You’ve researched, identified a pain point, interviewed a customer, got an awesome quote, dug into the results, and packaged it all up in a pretty PDF. You can only move leads through the funnel if a. They can access your content directly (put it in the resource section or in your navigation!) and/or b. You distribute this content at the right time.
Use email, use social media, use them as blog CTAs, use them during sales conversations. Whatever it is, make sure that the right eyes are on your case study to propel them forward in the buying process.
- KEY TAKEAWAY: Use a common challenge as a jumping off point, and don’t forget to add the case study to your site/distribute it!
As a B2B business, compelling customer testimonials and case studies can be the difference between a prospective customer choosing your business or a competitors’.
Are case studies an integral part of your B2B content marketing strategy? We’d love to hear your thoughts – connect with us on Twitter!