Six reasons why you should use case studies; plus 11 tips to help you write them

28/04/17Six reasons why you should use case studies; plus 11 tips to help you write them

I’ve written before about the three things which make a great website:

  • User experience
  • Images
  • Content

When advisers think about the last of those three case studies are often overlooked. It’s rare that I see them used on adviser websites. That’s a shame; they are hugely useful and versatile pieces of content.

Six reasons to add case studies to your website

Well written case studies (more of that in a moment), will:

  1. Show the reader the type of people you work with
  2. Demonstrate your expertise
  3. Show the benefit clients get from working with you
  4. Separate you from other advisers who haven’t taken the time to produce them
  5. Keep Google happy (assuming the content is unique to your website) and have a wider SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) benefit
  6. Be available to use elsewhere

Stories, in this instance, case studies, are powerful. As the old saying goes: “Facts tell, stories sell.” And, let’s not be shy here, one of the main functions of your website is to sell the idea of working with you, to potential clients.

Not just about your website

Case studies take time and effort to produce. Therefore, you need to get as much benefit from them as possible.

They can easily be ‘re purposed’ (it’s not just financial services which comes up with the most awful jargon) and used elsewhere.

The most obvious example is PR. Journalists are crying out for case studies. If you have a bank of them ready to be used, featuring real people and accompanied by with professionally shot images, you will be forever on a journalist’s speed dial.

Where else can case studies be used?

  • Social media
  • In your newsletters
  • In your email footer

Two case study options

The best-case studies are those which feature real clients.

When I suggest that to advisers I’m often met with a sharp intake of breath, a shake of the head and a swift folding of the arms. But, in my experience, clients are happier than most advisers believe they will be, to feature in case studies. Sure, they might want some details changed to avoid revealing too much confidential information. But, they are often happy to help.

You won’t know until you ask.

If you don’t want to ask your clients, or they decline, the next option is to write case studies based on problems your clients have had, but with sufficient details changed. Clearly, you won’t be able to use their name either.

These anonymous case studies work well, but will never be as powerful as one where the client is identified and pictured alongside the piece.

Tips for writing great case studies

So, you’ve made the decision to add case studies to your website, how can you ensure they are as effective as possible?

Our top tips:

1. Don’t be shy: Ask carefully selected clients if they would be happy to be featured in a case study. They can only say “no” and you might be pleasantly surprised at the response you get

2. Tell a story: As we said earlier, facts tell, stories sell. Include the challenges and problems that the client came to you with, an explanation of how you helped and, most importantly, how they benefited from your advice

3. This isn’t War & Peace: 450 – 500 words per case study is plenty; ideally split down between the three sections we outlined above

4. Choose carefully: Write about cases your target clients will relate to. If you specialise in the ‘at retirement’ market, those are the case studies you should write. Have you changed someone’s life because your advice allowed them to retire early? If you have, there’s your first case study

5. Finish with a testimonial: Some kind words from the client is a great way to finish the case study

6. Careful how you write: We read differently online to the way we do in print. Short sentences and paragraphs, sub-headings and bullet points are the order of the day. Of course, write in plain English, avoid clichés (sometimes easier said than done!) and jargon

7. Avoid overt self-promotion: The case study should stand on its own and demonstrate your expertise, without the need for a blatant push of your services

8. Include key numbers and stats: These are important to show how you made a difference and how the client benefited from working with you

9. Keep Google happy: Use unique content, not published elsewhere and include key words and phrases to help your SEO effort

10. Written, video, podcast?: Consider different ways of presenting the case studies, usually they are written, but a video case study or podcast interview would be very powerful

11. Make them easy to find: Include them in a prominent position on your website, ideally on a dedicated page which can be reached from links on your homepage. Use them on your ‘About you’ pages too, to show the practical application of the theory you discuss

Worth the effort

Case studies take time to produce, but there’s no doubt the effort is worth it; great content, unique to your site, which demonstrates the areas you work in and your expertise.

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