As a B2B marketer, you need to demonstrate how your tool, service or product is better than your competitors. That’s why so many companies rely on lists of features that can get lost in the sea of sameness. And that’s where case studies and customer stories come in.
B2B marketing is hard. While B2C companies get to use brand to set themselves apart, there’s an expectation (real or otherwise) that B2B buying decisions will be built more on practicalities and logic.
While that’s up for debate (we know that B2B decision-makers are still people), you do need to demonstrate how your tool, service or product is better than your competitors. That’s why so many companies rely on lists of features that can get lost in the sea of sameness.
And that’s where case studies and customer stories come in. Nearly two-thirds of B2B marketers see customer case studies as valuable parts of their content marketing mix. We’ve written a lot (like, heaps) of customer stories so we’ve seen what makes them so valuable.
The value of B2B offerings often comes down to fit. One bit of software might be a real find for one company and a white elephant for another. Customer stories let you get right down into the detail of how your offering functions in different scenarios and for different clients. This gives readers real-life examples to connect their business needs to. And the more niche you get, the better. There’s little point in creating an ad campaign targeting just physios specialising in Pilates, but with customer success stories, you can and should.
Many B2B companies struggle to move beyond the features of their offering into the persuasion-rich world of benefits. For some, that’s because what they do could be applied and add value to wildly different businesses. Case studies give you a way to zero in on the pain points you solve for different clients and talk more about the benefits you deliver. For Promapp (now Nintex and an NZ-tech success story), case studies let prospective clients see actual examples of how the tool could solve their problems. Sarah Berkowski, then chief marketing officer, said, “We’ve seen an increase in enquiries and requests for more info. This provides our sales team with the opportunity to engage directly with a prospective client.”
Often, what you offer is pretty standard, but the way you deliver it sets you apart. But simply saying that you offer excellent account management, are remarkably user-friendly or unusually client-oriented won’t do the job – everyone says they do those things. Customer stories let you show how you work and highlight unique parts of your process, people or culture that create a superior client experience.
That’s a big part of how we use case studies. Clients stick with us because we’re easy to work with, but we can’t just tell people that. It’s insubstantial and unconvincing. Instead, we get our clients to share how we make them feel throughout our projects together.
You know how people decide what to type into Google? They start with the problem they’re trying to solve. That can be an issue for B2B businesses – if you offer AI automation, you won’t come up when a food manufacturer starts looking for ways to reduce wastage. But case studies? They’re naturally packed with keywords that link your offering to the problems it solves. That creates more traffic and better SEO, which is what MYOB found.
“Because we store the case studies on the website, the new content helps drive additional traffic and downloads,” says Serena Nance, then content and events marketing manager.
We’re social animals. What other people think matters. Your customer stories are like testimonials with undies on the outside (ie. with superpowers). They give that all-important social proof with enough context to make them more impressive, and enough detail to make them more credible.
A2X, NZ-made cloud software, uses case studies to do that.
“Words for Breakfast writes all the case studies, which are really valuable at converting people who are considering,” says marketing manager Denym Bird.
Case studies are one of the few marketing assets that will work at any level of the marketing funnel. They can be excellent fodder to bring in leads, keep them warm then ultimately convert. That makes money very well spent.
“I’d say that the case studies make a significant contribution to the conversion rate at the consideration stage,” says Denym.
For Promapp, case studies wouldn’t just bring leads in, they were also used to keep in touch throughout the long buying cycle.
“It helps keep us top of mind with prospects,” said Sarah.
So that’s it. That’s the hack: let your happy customers tell why you’re such a catch. And the best news is that it doesn’t have to be all that hard. Once you’ve got a customer keen to participate, just hand their details to us. We’ll call to interview them, then write up a case study that’s packed with quotes so lovely they’ll turn your ears pink. We can even manage the sign-off process for you – whatever helps you get them out faster – so, get in touch.