Unlocking Success: How Case Studies Help Small Businesses Grow

Case Study: A marketing tool that helps to attract and convert prospects by describing the results of working with or buying from a business.

When small business owners talk about their marketing challenges, they cite a wide range of different issues depending on the business they’re in. But, many owners have some challenges in common expressed as things like these examples:

  • Getting prospects to understand what we do.
  • Getting prospects to understand why they need our products/services.
  • Explaining the benefits of our products/services.
  • Getting people to trust our company and do business with us.
  • Getting people to understand why we’re better than our competitors.
  • Managing prospect expectations.
  • Justifying the cost of our products/services.

If you have uttered one or more of those sentences lately, you’re among the small business owners who should take a hard look at using case studies in your marketing strategy.

Really? Case Studies?

Yes, small businesses benefit just as much from case studies as do larger businesses. If you’re familiar with case studies, you’ve probably run across them on the websites of medium to large companies. Under their Resources tab on the navigation, they may even have a category for case studies. And, maybe you should, too.

Case studies give solutions to problemsWhat is a Case Study?

Here’s a brief overview of what a case study is all about. It’s written about the experience of one of your customers. It’s typically divided into three sections.

  1. The Problem. A description of the problems or challenges facing the customer before you hit the scene.
  2. The Solution: A description of what you did to address the problem. You can describe the products and services you provided to the customer and how those things helped them fix their problems. It also gives you a chance to differentiate yourself from your competitors. It gives the reader an idea of how you approach your customers’ problems and what it’s like working with you.
  3. The Result: This section is where you figure out what qualitative or quantitative results the customer experienced because of your expert assistance.

To complete a case study, you need to have the cooperation of one of your customers. And, done properly, customers really like participating. You’d be careful that the case study doesn’t paint your customer as incompetent, just as someone making an informed choice to address their problems. You can always offer an incentive. too.

A business may like having a link back to their website to help with their SEO. For either businesses or consumers, you could offer a small discount on their next purchase, a gift card, or some other token of your appreciation.

How Do You Publish a Case Study?

There are several ways to publish a case study, depending on how fancy you want to get.

  1. Publish the case study as a blog post. You can still use the same content and publishing it as a blog post is the least amount of effort.
  2. Publish the case study on your letterhead. You do have a version of your letterhead that you can use in Word, for example, right? You can create a Word file containing the case study and save it as a PDF file for distribution.
  3. Publish the case study with some graphics. If you have a way to create a PDF file with graphics in it, you can create a cover page, the content pages, and an end page with information about your company. You can use stock photos to illustrate the content, create “call outs” to intersperse in the content to highlight critical information, create charts or graphs if it’s appropriate, and more.

Why Do Case Studies Work?

Small businesses can use case studies whether they’re selling to consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B).

B2C Marketing: A case study is very similar to a customer review, but you have the opportunity to give consumers much more information about your product or service.

Have you seen the research showing that 98% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and 49% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family? Well, it’s true. What that means is that you can use case studies to help your marketing even if you’re selling to consumers.

B2B Marketing: The DemandGen content preferences survey found that 49% of B2B buyers found case studies very helpful in making purchase decisions. In addition, other research shows that 80% of B2B buyers use case studies as part of their buying research.

So, regardless of whether you’re selling to consumers or businesses, your prospects are looking to things like case studies to make their purchasing decisions.

What Case Studies Can Do for You

Increase sales with case studiesRemember those marketing challenges small business owners listed at the beginning of this blog post? Case studies are the perfect way to address all of them. Here’s why.

  1. Case studies describe what you do and why your prospects need your product or service. If it’s difficult to get prospects to understand what you do, a case study can help. For one thing, a case study is your opportunity to really figure out how to describe your business. Once you have it in writing, you’ll be able to use it when you’re talking to your prospects, too.
  2. Case studies describe the benefits of your products or services in real terms. A case study does an excellent job of describing the benefits of your offerings in real terms, based on the experience of someone that your prospects can relate to.
  3. Case studies build trust and credibility. Real world examples of how you successfully help your customers instill confidence and show that you can deliver on your promises.
  4. Case studies can highlight your solutions. You can showcase the unique way you go about helping your customers and show how you have solutions that set you apart in your marketplace.
  5. Case studies point out the return on investment you offer your customers. You can describe the benefits your customer received and, in many cases, show how they turned the expense of working with you into an investment.
  6. Case studies can improve your website’s SEO. You can optimize your case study for SEO and drive traffic to your website.

Maybe the best thing case studies do for you is they give you the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of how to present your products and services to prospects and customers.

 

If you want assistance with developing case studies, or want to learn how to develop case studies yourself, get in touch!

How to Write SEO Content in 2019 and Beyond

Website owners want to rank on Google more than any other search engine. But, Google doesn’t often give solid clues about how to write SEO content. Recently they published an article about how they evaluate content.

When your content has good ranking on Google, you’ll have a better chance of getting more traffic. Besides that, since content is such a big part of the overall ranking algorithm, that type of information is gold if you want to improve your ranking on Google.

The last time Google published guidelines for content, it was 2011. You may have lost track of that information, or never saw it in the first place. The information they published in August of 2019 seems to refine the earlier advice and gives you more ways to evaluate your content.

How to Write SEO Content for Google

Everyone knows that Google wants authors to make their first priority satisfying readers. Any tricks you might use that will over-optimize your content will certainly backfire. But, the question many of us have is how Google defines good content.

In their latest article, they focus on the questions you should ask yourself when you review your content before you publish it. They identified four areas where you need to focus your attention.

1. Does Your Content Have Substance and Quality?

How to write SEO ContentMake sure your content:

  • is original information, reporting, research or analysis: You may not have the ability to do your own research, but you can include your own perspective and include things you’ve learned from your own experience.
  • is a substantial, complete or comprehensive description of the topic: If you dash off a blog post that addresses only part of a topic, you’re not helping the visitor or yourself; make sure that your title doesn’t promise more than the content delivers.
  • provides insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious: You’ll be using other resources to gather information, but make sure you draw your own conclusions on how that information applies to your target market.
  • avoids simply copying or rewriting content from other sources and provides substantial additional value and originality: Some authors think that if they copy content from an authoritative source and link to it, their job is done. Use resources to reinforce what you’re saying, provide additional detail, or prove statistics. Don’t use resource content to replace your own perspective.
  • has a descriptive headline and/or page title that gives a helpful summary of the content: Google wants to provide the best answer to a searcher’s question. Write a title that explains what your content will cover.
  • has a headline and/or page title that avoids being exaggerating or shocking in nature: Some “experts” will tell you to write crazy titles to attract clicks. But, if your visitors click right back to the search results because the content doesn’t match the title, Google won’t be impressed.
  • is something you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend: Write clearly and concisely, and make your content truly useful to your visitors.
  • is something you’d expect to see in, or referenced by, a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book: If you wouldn’t be proud to have everyone you know to see your content, it’s just not good enough.

2. Are You Writing in Your Area of Expertise?

Make sure your content:

  • Write SEO Content based on expertise

    presents information in a way that establishes trust, including clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page: Google likes outbound links to authority sources. Don’t hesitate to give credit to places where you’ve found statistics or information that supports your content. If you’re using WordPress, adding an author bio is simple with plugins like Simple Author Box. See an example at the end of this post.

  • is published on a website that gives the impression of being trusted or widely recognized as an authority on its topic: For your own name and website, becoming an authority takes time. Displaying links to your online profiles can help readers learn more about you.
  • displays enthusiasm and an in-depth knowledge of the topic: Write about topics that relate to your core expertise. If you want to provide other related types of information, look for a real expert to write a guest post.
  • is free from easily-verified factual errors: Don’t wing it. Confirm your facts and link to authority websites to provide a proof source.
  • generates trust for issues relating to your money or your life: Would you follow your own advice if it would impact your money or your life?

3. Is Your Content Produced and Presented Professionally?

Content should be presented wellMake sure your content:

  • is free from spelling or stylistic issues: There’s no excuse for these issues in your writing, given all of the tools that are available to avoid them. Stylistic issues include things like using a lot of passive voice in your writing, writing very long sentences, or using inappropriate slang or jargon.
  • is produced well and doesn’t appear sloppy: Have you ever tried to read content that consists of very long paragraphs with no headlines to break it up? Use short paragraphs and headlines to make your content easy to read.
  • isn’t mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites: Services that provide the same content to all of their customers don’t impress Google. It might seem like you can produce content without actually doing anything, but it’s not helping your rankings or your readers.
  • isn’t displayed along with an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content: You may want to use ads to monetize your blog, but if the ads become a distraction, Google will know.
  • displays well on mobile devices: Making your website completely mobile-friendly will eliminate any concerns about serving your readers using a mobile device. Use the Google test to make sure your site qualifies.

4. Is Your Content Better than Other Content Ranking on the Web?

How to write SEO contentMake sure your content:

  • provides substantial value when compared to other pages in search results: Do a search for the keyword phrase your content targets. Make sure your content is competitive or better than the other pages in the search results.
  • serves the genuine interests of visitors to the site: Authors who write to rank well in search engines won’t fool Google. Make sure you cover topics that your readers want to know more about.

How to Write SEO Content: Next Steps

If you want to know how to write SEO content, listening to Google’s latest guidelines is an excellent place to start. In addition, you need to pay attention to optimizing your content. Do the keyword research that will tell you what phrases people are actually searching for. Ranking for a search term that no one uses isn’t worth your time.

You also need to follow good SEO techniques, such as using the target keyword in your page title and content to help the search engines spot the topic you’re covering. If you’re using WordPress, a plugin like Yoast SEO will give you the information you need to optimize your content effectively.

For many, creating the right content for a website isn’t a good use of their time. You may find it takes too much time, or you don’t have the interest or skills to do it well. If that happens to you, contact me for professional assistance.