Sometimes you get a client win so huge, or a gush of praise so lengthy, that it deserves much more than a two-line testimonial.
This is where knowing how to write a customer success story (aka customer case study) comes in handy.
Save yourself $$$ on copywriter’s fees and learn how to do-it-yourself with this super-simple guide.
Not A Cleverly Disguised Sales Pitch
Your customer case study is not a sales page in disguise. It’s more like a blog post that’s focussed on your theory being put into practice.
The client is the hero of the story (not you or your product). The case study enables the reader to put themselves in the hero’s shoes and imagine themselves benefiting from your product/service. It’s social proof and credibility delivered in one powerful post.
Naturally, your product/service gets a mention - but it’s not the star of the show.
When you write your customer case study, switch out of the role of marketer and instead imagine yourself to be a journalist helping your client retell their story.
Getting The Material You Need
You may already have most of the info you need to write the story, gathered while you were working together, and maybe from a lengthy testimonial (one too long to use as a standalone).
If that’s the case, you have just one further question to ask your happy client - do you have their permission to share their story in a case study. Do not skip this step!
If you don’t have all the info you need, there are 11 interview questions in the pdf available at the end of this post. You can copy and paste them into an email, or print them out for a face-to-face interview, and you’ll sound like you were trained by Dimbleby himself (sorry, UK reference).
Finding The Angle For Your Customer Success Story
Pick up a newspaper, and it’ll show you how this is done. Every story needs an angle. It’s not enough if an elderly man has been left to wait weeks for a vital operation. The angle is he’s a retired soldier, who spent years serving the country that is now letting him down. It’s not enough that JK Rowling is the first billionaire author (impressive though that is). The angle is that she was a single-mum, surviving on Government benefits, rejected by multiple publishers.
So what’s your angle for this story? What’s special and inspiring about it? But also, in what ways is it relatable to the reader? In what ways is the hero similar to the reader?
Structuring Your Story
These seven sections make a good outline for a customer case study story (and are also in the downloadable pdf at the end).
#1 Attention-getting headline
Focus on the great result, or the exceptional challenge, or both.
Generate curiosity by alluding to the benefits the client/customer enjoyed and challenges they overcame.
#3 Set The Scene
A little background about the client/customer and the change they wanted or challenge they faced. Draw attention to what is special about them and also echo anything the reader is likely to empathise with.
#4 The White Knight
What was the solution? How did you/they decide this was the best option? What did you hope to achieve? And how did you implement it?
#5 The Twist
What’s special about this story? A unique challenge faced during implementation? An outrageously great result?
#6 The Happy Ending
What as the outcome? What is the client/customer planning next?
What would you like the reader to do now? Download a freebie? Book a call?
Using The Hero’s Own Words
Tell the story in your client’s words. Use quotes from the testimonial, or answers to your interview questions, to do most of the story-telling. Look at the material you have and try to match it to sections 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Then use your words to knit those passages of text together. You are the narrator only, setting the scene, describing the context, then making the hero centre stage.
Sprinkle In Some Facts
Facts are like seasoning. You don’t want too many of them or the case study will be hard to consume. But a little sprinkling certainly peps the post up a little. What hard numbers could you use in this case study? Ideally use a number at the beginning that illustrates the problem/challenge/change required, and another number near the end that demonstrates the success/great outcome.
The Finishing Touches
You’re almost ready to share your case study with the world. But first make sure:
♦ You’ve shown the hero in a good light - they’ll be more likely to approve it and share it, and prospects will like to see that you have your clients’ backs.
♦ Check the hero (client at the centre of the story) is happy with the case study - even f you already have permission from them.
♦ Add a clear call-to-action at the end of the post. What is the most logical next step for the reader?
4 Ways To Use Your Case Study
#1 Promote it just as you would a regular blog post - via your email list and social media.
#2 Near the bottom of your sales page, most likely in your FAQs (by now you’ve only got the attention of the on-the-fencers) link out to the case study as an example of the results you have achieved.
#3 If you have a warm lead that reminds you of the case study hero, direct them to the case study so they can picture themselves in the hero’s shoes.
#4 If you have an automatic onboarding email sequence for new subscribers, add an email that directs them to this case study - it’s a gentle way to introduce them to your products/services.
Free Download - Customer Case Study Toolkit
Customer Case Study Toolkit
11 interview questions + customer success story template + top tips.