Create Killer Case Studies In-House: A Developer’s Guide

This easy-to-follow case study format will unlock the storyteller inside you and give your prospects a relevant, identifiable reason to learn more about your apps.

There’s a lot you can say about the software and apps your business offers, but it is often more powerful when someone else says it. Including social proof on your website and in your marketing materials can help you increase website visitors to prospects, and for a B2B audience, the case study format is an effective way to share success stories made possible by your solutions.

Follow this Case Study Format
  • An introduction: Set the stage for the case study by giving some background on the company that is using your solution. Unlike getting to the point immediately and reporting facts when writing a press release for your ISV, a case study requires you to be more of a storyteller.
  • A clear description of the problem: Tell what motivated the company to seek out your products or services. Were they using an outdated or inferior system? Did new industry challenges force them to find a way to continue to operate efficiently? Were rising costs forcing them to automate some processes? Tell the story of how they decided it was time for a change.
  • The solution: Relate how the company found you and chose you to provide a solution. Be as detailed as you can. “Our software” is probably not specific enough. Tell which solution the company uses and customizations or services you added. Also, if you partnered with a particular hardware vendor or another ISV on a comprehensive solution, mention that as well. All of the details not only make the story complete, but it also shows the breadth of your products, services, integrations, and partnerships.
  • The results: Describe changes after your solution was deployed. Cover all areas, such as user experience for the company’s employees and customers, operational efficiencies gained, impact on the company’s sales, or other business metrics. Important case study format tip: use statistics. It’s much more impactful to say the solution resulted in “cost savings of 4%” rather than just “cost savings.” And, according to the Nielsen Norman Group, using numerals (the number rather than spelling out the number word) can stop the reader’s eye when skimming an article, making content more scannable.
  • Conclude with your plans for the future. Is the solution available to other clients? Are you working with new clients to integrate the software into their processes to achieve similar results? Show that the story doesn’t necessarily end with the featured client and invite the reader to learn more.
Benefits of a Case Study

Following this case study format to produce well-crafted content accomplishes these three things:

  1. Gives readers something to identify with. When you arrange to write a case study with a client in an industry you target, other companies will recognize their challenges and the goals they want to accomplish.
  1. Shows how your solution addresses a real-world application. You can build webpage after webpage with features and benefits of your solution, but telling the story of its actual use by a real customer can carry much more weight.
  2. Uses their words, not yours. The third-party perspective lends credibility to the claims you make about your solution’s value.
ISV Case Study Tips

ISVs sometimes struggle with objections from clients when asked to be the subject of a case study. Here are a few tips to help overcome those objections.

  • If a customer is willing to give a testimonial, ask if they’d consider allowing you to develop it into the more in-depth case study format. Show them an example, so they understand what the finished content will look like.
  • Create a questionnaire that the client can fill in or review before a phone call so they have time to think about their responses.
  • Assure the client that they can review and request revisions before the case study is published. Remember they also have concerns about their business’ reputation and branding, so extending this courtesy may make it easier for them to participate.
  • Set a realistic timeline. It may take a while to work with a client to develop the case study and to mutually agree on a final version. Be patient—the valuable content you will gain will be worth the investment of time.
  • If the case study will be posted directly on your website (rather than in pdf format) as a part of your inbound marketing strategy, optimize it for search engines, including the use of a strong SEO keyword.
  • Promote the case study on social media, in newsletters and in other marketing activities.

Case studies capture the attention of readers—after all, everyone loves a good story. If you have a great story to tell, but still need some guidance, the DevPro Journal staff is always happy to help answer questions. 

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.

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Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.