Updated: Nov 28, 2021
The results are in: You crushed it.
The stars aligned and everything fell into place. If there was an Olympic competition for exceeding customer expectations, you just brought home the gold.
You’re thrilled. The client’s thrilled. Dad even nodded his head, which you interpret as approval. Now you want to leverage your shared success to bring in new customers. It’s time to write a case study.
So… where do you begin?
Start with the facts
You might be able to answer half these from memory — but always double check your answers with timestamps and email correspondence. The key to writing a compelling SaaS case study, after all, is accuracy.
Who was the customer?
When did the project begin?
What problem(s) was your SaaS brought in to solve?
What were the results?
Did anything not go according to plan? (If so, how did you or the customer pivot?)
If relevant, how did you determine the right solution or approach for the customer?
How long did the project take?
Get on the phone with your customer
The difference between a mediocre case study and a powerful one is how well you capture the customer experience. Can you put to words what exactly you did for the customer?
Anyone reading your case studies will be reading from the customer’s perspective. They want to share their victory. If you can clearly convey the problem, experience, and results using the customer’s own words, you’re on your way to creating a master case study.
The key is to capture as many details from the client’s point of view as possible. The easiest way to do that is to record a call (which you can do for free using Zoom) and transcribe the conversation using a paid tool like Otter.
You’ll get two things from customer calls
Exact quotes: Some of the best case studies include pull quotes. These allow the reader to hear about the customer experience from the customer themselves. Use customer quotes that either name the problem the customer was experiencing before using your product, what your product did for them, and of course, general praise they might say about you, your software, or company.
Customer language: Customers have a way of framing things in words that you, as the business owner, could never have thought up on your own. This language is a goldmine. If you have successful client calls, often the transcription is a rough version of your final case study. Use the transcription, and the customer’s exact words, as the foundation for your case study. It’s their story you’re telling, after all.
What to ask on customer calls
There are three categories around which you should aim to gather information and quotes. These three categories should also help you frame the structure of your case study.
What was going on in your business when you chose to work with us?
Why did you choose us over a competitor?
How did you learn about our company?
How did you select the specific tool or service level you ended up using?
What was it like using the tool?
How long did it take for you to start seeing results?
What results did you see?
How did the tool benefit your business?
What problem(s) did the tool help you overcome?
Is there anything I didn’t ask about that you’d also like to discuss?
How to structure your case study
You can be fancy. It’s best to just be clear.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to writing case studies. Every writer will have their own preferences.
As a SaaS copywriter, when I write case studies, I like to make sure that certain elements jump off the page. Specifically, I make sure the reader can easily find the problem the customer was facing and the results they gained from the product, all with a simple skim of the page. This usually means having a summary at the beginning or using pull quotes or headings to emphasize the key results.
Regarding the rest of the case study, I like to write it in the same way I taught you to gather information from customers. I have a simple beginning, middle, and end.
I combine the facts from the business owner with the finer details I gathered from the customer. I’ll even label different sections with titles like “Before” and “After.”
And as I alluded to earlier, I’ll also insert some of the best customer quotes throughout the case study to add an interesting dynamic to the story.
On writing: tips for achieving clarity and brevity
A manual about how to write a SaaS case study wouldn't be complete without a section about writing. The reality is, a case study is all about telling a good story. That means knowing how to write well and keep readers engaged — while avoiding typos or other common writing mistakes.
Here are some pointers to help you write clearly and keep the reader hooked:
Use brevity. There’s no reason to drag the reader on and on. A case study can be short, as long as it conveys the necessary information.
Use one sentence to make one point. Don’t try to write long, winding sentences. Write simply. Write short.
Use active voice, not passive. Remember back to your high school English class. Active voice is the clearest way to tell a story. (Passive voice example: The book was taken from the bookshelf. Active voice example: Someone took the book from the bookshelf.)
Avoid unnecessary jargon. Some industry parlance is okay if your ideal customer is familiar with it. But you should strive to avoid unnecessary jargon. In other words, don’t use a long word when a short one will do.
Write in a conversational style that’s easy to follow. Remember: you’re telling a story. And complicated, hard to read stories aren’t as digestible as simple ones. If you struggle to write simply, try starting your case study in the draft of an email. A change in context can sometimes change your writing voice.
As a best practice, I like to send case studies back to the person I interviewed to receive their final approval. This accomplishes a few things.
First, it helps you get the facts straight. If the customer has records that conflict with your own, then showing them the case study can help you find where you went wrong.
Second, it puts you in good favor with the person or company you helped. If they approve your case study, they may even help you share it or use the case study to recommend their friends to your company.
And third, receiving approval allows the person you interviewed to potentially add more details to the story that they forgot to mention on the call. They have one more chance to add a quote or new bit of information to further bolster your case study.
The finer details
Time to dot your t’s and cross your eyes — or something like that.
You need to add those final, subtle elements that make your case study effective and pleasant to read. Here’s what I recommend:
Have someone else on your team proofread the case study. They should look for typos as well as awkward sentences that can be reworded.
Request headshots from everyone quoted in the case study to add visual elements to your story.
End your case study with a clear call to action. A case study is a tool for winning new business, after all, so ending with a CTA like “Start your free trial today,” is a great way to nudge readers to take the next step.
Hand it off to design. They might structure your case study in a beautiful PDF, complete with powerful images and quotes that jump off the page. Or they might take a subtle approach and just make sure you’re using the right fonts and colors for your brand. Either way, get a designer’s eye on your case study before you publish.
The power of a good case study
A well-crafted SaaS case study can be a tool for acquiring new customers. If people aren't buying from your website, a case study serves as social proof to site visitors: a sign that you’re a trustworthy business that's helped similar customers in the past.
Case studies are not complicated. You’re trying to tell a good story that compels other people to use your product. The best case studies use customer language, good storytelling, and a clear structure to quickly convey something you achieved for a past customer.
It’s a sign to future customers that you’ve crossed the finish line a few times before.
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