How long does it take to publish your case studies? Many of our clients ask this, when we’re planning which customer case studies to write up and how many they want to share. The unhelpful truth is, we won’t know until we start working with yours. The fastest time we’ve developed, written, approved and published a client success story is two weeks – ten working days. More typically, it takes five to six weeks to get a new case study live.
Here’s a breakdown of what affects the timescale to write and publish your case studies – even if you’re producing them in-house instead of hiring a copywriter or PR agency – and what questions we ask to speed up the process:
When will the results really show up for your customer?
Case studies are a brilliant sales tool, no wonder it’s a rapidly growing trend to include your customer feedback in content marketing. But it can be more damaging if the case study content doesn’t demonstrate any concrete results. If your products or services have a defined outcome, it’s best to wait until the customer can give stats as well as anecdotal feedback about your work for them. Too many businesses publish case studies which are vague, focusing on the features of the products or services. As the alternative, we help you explore how the customer felt, the true benefits – in language THEY use – and what the impact has been on their company.
What are the key dates for your customer, what stage is the project at?
If you were working to a deadline for your client, chances are they’ve got an event coming up or a complex project timescale to meet. We know time is precious for everyone, so it’s helpful to know any key dates in their diary. By building a close customer relationship, you can ask your contact in advance about a case study and then agree when to follow it up – after one months or three months. If they give you a date, you know you’ve got their commitment to participate, again, making it faster to get sign-off and publish your case studies online.
When can we take the full brief and book the interviews?
To write a quality case study reflecting the experiences of your customer, we need to speak with them directly, and any colleagues who have benefitted from your services. But as said, getting your clients to give up their time to contribute to your marketing can be a challenge.
Before we speak to them, we need to hear your side of the story – directly from the person who knows the customer best. That might be your project delivery manager, the business development manager, account manager or your customer success team member. The brief is essential for us to understand:
the services you delivered
the process you’ve taken the customer through
what results you’ve achieved for them
Then we can ensure the conversation runs smoothly without wasting their time with questions where you already know the answers.
Next, we arrange a call to hear their views and we don’t script the calls beyond planning the interview questions with you. The interview is designed to get them talking, to give an authentic testimonial, as well as any constructive feedback for your operations. Once the case study interviews are complete, we will return the success story to you within 5 working days.
Who will need to approve your case study? How large is the company featured in the story?
Once the story is signed off by you and your team, we seek the customer’s approval for the final copy. When it’s a large corporate or brand we are writing about, the person we are interviewing may have to ask several others to approve the story – which was true for Uniqodo and BT. If it’s going to a marketing manager or department head, we offer to speak to them directly to save your client the time of going back and forth.
It’s helpful to find out contact names for all the people before we start because it causes delays if additional people need to sign-off the story. If their Managing Director wants to see it and add their input, it’s worth giving them plenty of time to review it. Having more contacts in your customer’s organisation can also work to your advantage in building the relationship – and you’re helping their marketing efforts by publishing more content about them online.
Who will publish your case studies on your website? Do you need more help here?
With all the case study copy approvals complete, the story is ready to publish. We can help you decide where to publish your case studies on your homepage menu and how to drive more traffic to the pages once live. As part of the planning, we’ll talk about search engine optimisation and keyword phrases – to tag every page properly. We can help further with sharing your case study online because we work with a number of digital agencies, SEO experts and website designers in and around Bristol for WordPress, Leadpages, SquareSpace, Wix and bespoke CMS sites.
Our first step for getting the most out of your case studies is a Content Planning Workshop or Case Study Clinic – call Debra on 07815 782696 or book in a date.
Creating content takes planning, routine, and plenty of ideas. But for a small business with a solo marketing manager or owner-director writing about the business, it’s hard to find time because you’ve got many other responsibilities. And it takes time to shape raw ideas into compelling content. So, how do you plan your marketing and allocate enough time to serve up consistent content? And why is consistency so important to attract new customers?
For me there are three reasons why consistency is important:
1. Extend your brand identity
2. Build trust in your expertise
3. Prove your reliability
Your brand identity shines when creating content consistent with your values
Having a strong, consistent brand identity helps to build trust with potential customers and people are more likely to buy from businesses they trust. It’s so important to reflect your business values in your marketing messages, because people are instinctive – they know when the two don’t match. Sharing the same message consistently helps to build confidence. Your style of language, brand colours and logo on your marketing materials all help people recognise and believe in your service – as long as you can demonstrate the return, of course. With consistent words and actions, you reinforce that you will meet their expectations.
Your expertise stands out when sharing it to help others
Building trust is about serving customers’ needs with your expertise, but also continuing to develop it. Sometimes businesses are afraid to admit their people are still learning; some shy away from promoting themselves as experts. The truth is, every area of knowledge is growing exponentially – it’s impossible for anyone to know everything. But your loyal customers need reassurance that you’re keeping your knowledge up to date. If you’re solving a problem for them, they don’t want to find out later (or worse, from your competitor) that your methods are outdated. They’ll only see you are learning when you share fresh information from your field. To help my clients boost their website traffic by sharing case studies, I’m researching more on key words, search engine optimisation and creating cornerstone content. My theory is, with so much content already out there, yours has to become a well-structured jigsaw puzzle – all linking back to one big picture of how you help customers!
Prove your reliability
For attracting new audiences and retaining loyal customers, consistency is key across all areas of your business. A good reputation depends on delivering excellent service and business systems like paying invoices on time, and regularly listening to employee or supplier feedback. Consistency in your marketing reminds people you are reliable. When you use consistent messages, your ideal tribe are more likely to hear or see them through the busy ‘noise’ of life. Repetition is positive, when you link the messages to the pain points which are most relevant for your audience. However, even as a copywriter, I’ve found it really tough to write about my own business to keep my marketing flowing. The solution to help me run a monthly blog was to brainstorm it with Kimba Digital and plan the first set of blogs in one session. And for my clients I do the same – we plan 3 months ahead for creating content, which links into the themes covered in their customer case studies. It still takes time to get content produced and agreed…
Planning to achieve consistency – how do you prioritise your time?
For most businesses, client work comes first, and marketing comes second. Until you hit a quiet patch. Then your focus switches back to sales and marketing with fresh energy to reach new audiences. Of course, this doesn’t allow for the time-delay in getting your message out there and the lag before people begin to respond. By planning in a weekly slot for your marketing, it becomes possible to run a consistent set of core activities. These must focus on growing your database of enquiries and following up with them. As a default, you’ll need to allocate at least three hours per week – two hours for creating or approving content and one for monitoring the results. For your social media, you’ll need daily routines, to reply and engage with your connections. If you outsource copywriting and marketing, you’ll still need a minimum of one day a month (in weekly chunks or as a single focus day) to set the direction, approve the content, and evaluate the results.
And if you’d like to include customer success stories in your content marketing plans, but you haven’t had time, this is exactly where I can help. I always create a case study blueprint before calling your clients for their honest feedback – to ensure the story will reflect your brand and meet your marketing goals. Case studies are a fantastic way to share your good news and results. And your customers’ insights provide a foundation for creating content which will help you engage new audiences and grow. To find out more, contact me or book in a free consultation.
Last year 63% of marketers said generating traffic and leads was their top challenge (Hubspot 2017) – which can be tackled with a strategic approach to content marketing. “Storify” isn’t a proper English word, but it’s out there, and I’m willing to bet we will identify 2018 as the year of stories. When written well, they support human-to-human content messaging – geared towards customers’ emotions – replacing traditional approaches in the business to business market.
Creating consistent content is still a big ask for SME marketing managers. Many businesses struggle to keep up a continuous flow of digital marketing and social media posts to reach their ideal audience. Email marketing has to be tested and tweaked, and social media algorithms are reducing organic (non-paid-for) reach. Then there’s the explosion of new platforms and automation tools. Regardless of where or how you share your story, it can only provide value for your audience when you keep your customer needs at the heart of it. But it can seem like an endless task, making it easy to lose sight of your goal to help and inspire customers.
Look again at your business data and your strengths – who you serve, where they find you and how your processes are working to support existing customers. When you focus on things that are going well, you can build trust and establish yourself as an expert because you are solving genuine problems for your customers.
Once you’ve built loyal relationships, your customers offer a rich source of stories to support your content marketing in so many ways. Writing up the case studies gives you a foundation to develop multiple versions of the content to share in different ways. Let’s take a look at the benefits of case studies and how to re-purpose the stories in your content marketing strategy:
What are the benefits of spending time on customer case studies?
When planned carefully, you’ll cement stronger relationships with your existing customers when you take the time to help promote them – delivering mutual marketing results. Your customer case studies highlight the foundations of your business success and theirs too. Depending on your marketing strategy, and how you create the content, customer case studies drive three key outcomes:
Increased website traffic.
Improved engagement within your networks and email marketing database.
Greater reach to wider audiences via online press and social media.
Search engines are content hungry; generating traffic for businesses who refresh their page content and signposting regularly. Google My Business posts and LinkedIn articles summarising new case studies or blogs are a simple tool to attract the major player’s attention. A long copy case study article on your website is a great opportunity to include select keywords and create a landing page for targeted pay per click advertising.
Your social media networks and contact database don’t necessarily know all your capabilities. (I recently had a client who didn’t realise I could organise video testimonials as part of their case study program.) By producing case studies from a range of relevant industries, readers are more likely to trust your abilities based on where you specialise and who you have helped previously. Sharing your customer case studies showcases everything about your business. Your audience can learn how it feels to work with you, what your customers love about your service and relate it back to their own pain points. We all love a story, and the best ones inspire people and invoke an emotional response.
Generating traffic by turning case studies into other content types
Providing your customers are willing, you can start by writing up the situation and describing the case study scenario in detail. Once you have the story, you can re-purpose case studies into different formats for generating traffic back to your site:
Develop the pain point into a helpful blog topic.
Include credentials in an online event brochure.
Capture visual photos or voice clips for podcasting.
The tough challenge when creating your case studies is time – getting hold of your customer after you’ve moved onto another project and completing the story. It’s also hard to listen objectively to your clients, when you’re close to the situation. That’s why 27 Marketing specialises in planning, writing and sharing case studies for businesses. Learn more here.