A business case study is a powerful content marketing tool that can help sales teams overcome prospective customers’ objections to ultimately close a deal.

Compelling case studies push a prospective buyer closer to a decision by: 

  • Providing social proof,
  • Addressing specific concerns/objections, and
  • Demonstrating measurable results/impact/ROI.

Most people think the perfect case study is the one from their most successful client engagement, or their most satisfied customer, the one who is most likely to provide a ton of compliments. But really, this is just a long-form testimonial. Unfortunately, this is how many copywriters (even professional case study writers) tend to approach case studies. 

They interview a client about what went well or what they love about the product, get some nice quotes, and then write up a nice customer success story

Here’s the problem. This kind of case study only provides some social proof to a prospective customer. It does little to address their objections or give them confidence that the investment will pay off. 

A high-quality case study must include impactful, measurable results, AND it needs to spell out why the chosen solution was the ONLY possible solution that could have achieved those results — instead of an alternative/default/cheaper option.  

In this article, I’ll walk you through how to create compelling case studies using the standard case study template and show you what to look for when hiring a freelance writer to create custom case studies.

How to Write an Effective Case Study

The standard case study template follows a three-part structure: 

  • Challenge: Describe the customer’s problem and the impact that problem was having on their bottom line. 
  • Solution: Describe the product or service the customer chose to address their problem, and include details about why that solution was the only or best option to address the problem, especially as compared to doing nothing, or a cheaper option. 
  • Impact: Provide concrete details (ideally related to saving money, making more sales, growing a company, etc.) that prove the ROI of the solution.

You can see a lot more examples of case study templates on Hubspot and get a sense of how they are typically designed, but almost all of them stick to this formula.

Case studies can vary in length from about 500 to 1,500 words. In general, shorter is better, but a complex use case might require longer explanations. 

It’s possible to write a case study that looks like it follows the standard structure, but still doesn’t really address potential customers’ objections and demonstrate the ROI of the solution. 

Take a look at the following two hypothetical mini case studies about electric vehicles to see what I mean. 

Example A – The Happy Customer

When Johnny Appleseed’s 2012 Honda Civic wore out, he needed to replace his personal vehicle. Conscious of the rising cost of gasoline and the impact of CO2 emissions from gas-powered vehicles, he knew he wanted an electric vehicle. (Challenge). After researching for months, he bought a Tesla (Solution). Now he saves money on fuel and has reduced his personal carbon footprint. “I absolutely love my Tesla. It’s an incredible ride and I know I made the right choice,” Appleseed said (Impact).   

The only thing I learn from this case study is that there is at least one happy Tesla customer in the world. I have pretty limited information about this particular customer’s use case. And the biggest problem is that there’s no indication of why another cheaper option wouldn’t have gotten the job done.

Example B – The Problem Solver

As a soil scientist, Johnny Appleseed drives almost 1,000 miles each week for work visiting farms all over the state. When his 2012 Honda Civic wore out, he needed to replace his personal vehicle. Conscious of the rising cost of gasoline and the impact of CO2 emissions from gas-powered vehicles, he knew he wanted an electric vehicle. However, he was concerned about the range, because the farms he visits don’t have charging stations, meaning he would frequently need to travel more than 250 miles on one charge. That ruled out many of the electric vehicles on the market, which only have a range up to 225 miles (Challenge). After researching for months, he bought a Tesla, because its range of up to 400 miles on a single battery charge, and its fast-charging capabilities meant he was confident he’d be able to safely use it to get to his job sites without running out of power. (Solution) Now he saves $300 on fuel each month and has reduced his personal carbon footprint. “I absolutely love my Tesla. It’s an incredible ride and I know I made the right choice,” Appleseed said (Impact).

The added details in the second one make a solid case for why it was worth spending the extra dough to get the Tesla (which is likely to be a major objection in a prospective customer’s mind), and it contains a specific dollar amount that quantifies the impact of the product.

The image says "Case Study Examples" and shows two icons of cars, one yellow and one red. It includes a summary of The Happy Customer case study and the Problem Solver case study. The Happy Customer case study contains nice quotes, but doesn't demonstrate ROI or overcome objections. The Problem Solver case study has nice quotes, demonstrates ROI, and overcomes objections.

What to Look for in a Case Study Writer 

In general, finding and vetting writers for case studies is just like finding skilled content writers for any other kind of content writing.

There are a few key things to consider: 

Years of Experience in Content Marketing

Less experienced content writers will be more likely to make the mistake of writing a long-form testimonial. Look for a writer with at least five years of professional copywriting experience. 

Writing Skills

Use writing samples to assess their writing skills, their English fluency, and their proofreading skills. It’s best to do this on their own blog or LinkedIn so you know it hasn’t been heavily edited by someone else.

Interviewing Skills

Even more important than a copywriter’s way with words is their ability to pull out key details from a client during an interview. This is important for all types of content marketing, but especially crucial with case studies because you often only have one chance to interview the client, and have limited opportunities to ask follow up questions later. 

A lot of interviewers fail to capture useful ROI metrics during the interview, and they also fail to get specific examples. They let the customer get away with vague, positive statements like “The consultant streamlined our processes,” or “We were able to get a lot more done with X solution.” But they don’t keep asking questions like “What was your previous solution?” and “What would have happened if you didn’t fix the problem?” 

Basic Marketing Strategy Awareness

A case study writer doesn’t just need to be able to tell a nice story, they need to be able to grasp the pain points your prospective customers face, understand their objections, and really understand your differentiators. 

Volume Discount

If you’ve got at least five clients who are willing to provide case studies, consider looking for a writer who will offer a volume discount. You’ll have to pay in advance for all of them to get the discount, but the savings can be significant. 

Clear Revision Policy

Three rounds of revisions within a 30-day period is a standard policy for working with any freelance writer. The important thing is to make sure you and the writer are on the same page about what the revision period is and how quickly revisions will be turned around, etc. 

Overcome Customer Objections with Powerful Case Studies

My case study writing services include a client interview, a draft between 500 and 1,500 words, teaser content for posting on landing pages and on social media, and three rounds of revisions

I can also help with other content strategy and content creation needs:

If you’re interested, please schedule a free consultation.