How to Write a Case Study: Bookmarkable Guide & Template

Download Now: Free Case Study Templates
Braden Becker
Braden Becker


Earning the trust of prospective customers can be a major challenge. Before you can expect to earn their business, you’ll need to demonstrate your ability to deliver on the promises of your product or service. The best way to win new business is with cold, hard proof.

person at computer writing a case study

Download Now: 3 Free Case Study Templates

A great way to prove your worth is through a compelling case study. HubSpot’s 2024 State of Marketing report found that case studies are so captivating that they were the fifth most commonly used type of content that marketers relied on.

That statistic still holds true in Forbes Advisor’s 2024 study, which adds that 78% of B2B businesses report using case studies and customer stories because they are “crucial for demonstrating real-world value.

Having written these ever more frequently over the past ten years, I hope to serve as your guide through a process that can feel daunting, but I promise is worth the effort. Below, I'll walk you through what a case study is, how to prepare for writing one, what to include in it, and how it can be an effective tactic.

Table of Contents

Free Case Study Templates

Showcase your company's success using these three free case study templates.

  • Data-Driven Case Study Template
  • Product-Specific Case Study Template
  • General Case Study Template
  • And more!
Learn more

    Download Free

    All fields are required.

    You're all set!

    Click this link to access this resource at any time.

    Case Study Definition

    A case study is coverage of a specific challenge a business has faced, and the solution they've chosen to solve it. Case studies can vary greatly in length and focus on several details related to the initial challenge and applied solution, and can be presented in various forms like a video, white paper, blog post, etc.

    In professional settings, it‘s common for a case study to tell the story of a successful business partnership between a vendor and a client.

    Perhaps the success you’re highlighting is in the number of leads your client generated, customers closed, or revenue gained. Any one of these key performance indicators (KPIs) are examples of your company's services in action.

    When done correctly, these examples of your work can chronicle the positive impact your business has on existing or previous customers, helping you attract new clients.

    Why write a case study?

    I know, it sounds like a huge endeavor — is it really worth it?

    The truth is that while case studies are a huge undertaking, they are powerful marketing tools that allow you to demonstrate the value of your product to potential customers using real-world examples.

    Here are a few reasons why you should write case studies.

    1. Explain complex topics or concepts.

    Case studies give you the space to break down complex concepts, ideas, and strategies, showing how they can be applied in a practical way.

    You can use real-world examples, like an existing client, and use their story to create a compelling narrative that demonstrates how your product solved their issue. Most importantly, it explains how those strategies can be repeated to help other customers get similar, successful results.

    2. Show expertise.

    Case studies are a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise on a given topic or industry. This is where you get the opportunity to show off your problem-solving skills and how you’ve generated successful outcomes for clients you’ve worked with.

    3. Build trust and credibility.

    In addition to showing off the attributes above, case studies are an excellent way to build credibility. They’re often filled with data and thoroughly researched, which shows readers you’ve done your homework.

    A robust case study instills confidence in the solutions you present because the reader has now vicariously experienced the problem — and they followed, step-by-step, what it took to solve it. These elements work together, enabling you to build trust with potential customers.

    4. Create social proof.

    Using existing clients that have seen success working with your brand builds social proof.

    People are more likely to choose your brand if they know that others have found success working with you. Case studies do just that — put your success on display for potential customers to see.

    All of these attributes play together like an orchestra to help you gain more clients. Afterward, the case study acts as a reference. You can pull quotes from customers that were featured in these studies to repurpose them in other marketing content.

    How long should a case study be?

    Now that you’re more acquainted with the benefits of producing a case study, let’s explore how long these documents should be.

    The length of a case study will vary depending on the complexity of the project or topic discussed. However, as a general guideline, case studies typically range from 500 to 1,500 words.

    Whatever length you choose, it should provide a clear understanding of the challenge, the solution you implemented, and the results achieved.

    This may be easier said than done, but it‘s important to strike a balance between providing enough detail to make the case study informative and concise enough to keep the reader’s interest.

    The primary goal here is to effectively communicate the key points and takeaways of the case study. It’s worth noting that this shouldn’t be a wall of text. Make it attractive to dive into by using headings, subheadings, bullet points, charts, and other graphics to break up the content and make it more scannable for readers.

    I’ve also seen more and more brands incorporate video elements into case studies listed on their site for a more engaging experience, which is highly recommended given that video is currently the best performing marketing content format.

    case study format, forbes table of best performing content marketing formats

    Image Source

    Ultimately, the length of your case study should be determined by the amount of information necessary to convey the story and its impact without becoming too long. Next, let’s look at some templates to take the guesswork out of creating one.

    Case Study Templates

    To help you arm your prospects with information they can trust, I've put together a step-by-step guide on how to create effective case studies for your business with free case study templates to help you create your own.

    To make things even more actionable for you, I’ll highlight some useful templates that serve different needs.

    But remember, there are endless possibilities when it comes to demonstrating the work your business has done, and various audiences will have various reactions to what your business does.

    I can get you started — but never count out the creatives on your team with fresh ideas.

    1. General Case Study Template

    case study format, general example from hubspot

    Starting off with a straightforward, generic template can be a great foundation for your case study. With this first template, your business can elaborate on any solution provided to a satisfied customer — from their background to what led to them doing business with you, and the results they’ve seen.

    Along with the simplistic design of this template, each section is clearly distinct and outlines the type of information or direction to take to tell you and your customer’s story better.

    And for added benefit, when you download this template you’ll find bracket prompts for ideation and instructions to follow as you fill it in, which is incredibly helpful.

    Free Case Study Templates

    Showcase your company's success using these three free case study templates.

    • Data-Driven Case Study Template
    • Product-Specific Case Study Template
    • General Case Study Template
    • And more!
    Learn more

      Download Free

      All fields are required.

      You're all set!

      Click this link to access this resource at any time.

      2. Data-Driven Case Study Template

      case study format example on presenting data from hubspot

      For those looking to show off objective and numeric solutions, HubSpot’s Data-Driven template is a great template to work with.

      It’s structured to highlight the most notable achievement metrics that a specific customer has seen with your product and/or service.

      As you work through this template, you’ll find similar bracketed prompts and sections as the generic template — but with more eye-catching visual cues for your customer’s success points to be properly showcased.

      3. Product-Specific Case Study Template

      product-specific case study format example from hubspot

      Do you have a specific product or service that you’re trying to sell, but not enough reviews or success stories? This Product-Specific case study template will help.

      This template relies less on metrics, and more on highlighting the customer’s experience and satisfaction.

      As you follow the template instructions, you’ll be prompted to speak more about the benefits of the specific product, rather than your team’s process for working with the customer.

      4. Bold Social Media Business Case Study Template

      case study format example on social media presentation

      You can find templates that represent different niches, industries, or strategies that your business has found success in — like a bold social media business case study template.

      In this template, you can tell the story of how your social media marketing strategy has helped you or your client through collaboration or sale of your service.

      Customize it to reflect the different marketing channels used in your business and show off how well your business has been able to boost traffic, engagement, follows, and more.

      5. Lead Generation Business Case Study Template

      case study format example for lead generation

      It’s important to note that not every case study has to be the product of a sale or customer story, sometimes they can be informative lessons that your own business has experienced.

      A great example of this is the Lead Generation Business case study template.

      If you’re looking to share operational successes regarding how your team has improved processes or content, you should include the stories of different team members involved, how the solution was found, and how it has made a difference in the work your business does.

      Now that I’ve discussed different templates and ideas for how to use them, let’s break down how to create your own case study with one.


      1. Get started with case study templates.

      Telling your customer's story is a delicate process — you need to highlight their success while naturally incorporating your business into their story.

      If you're just getting started with case studies, I do recommend that you download HubSpot's Case Study Templates to kickstart the process if you haven’t already.

      2. Determine the case study's objective.

      All business case studies are designed to demonstrate the value of your services, but they can focus on several different client objectives.

      Your first step when writing a case study is to determine the objective or goal of the subject you're featuring. In other words, what will the client succeed in doing by the end of the piece?

      The client objective you focus on will depend on what you want to prove to your future customers as a result of publishing this case study.

      For example, your case study could focus on one of the following client objectives:

      • Complying with government regulation.
      • Lowering business costs.
      • Becoming profitable.
      • Generating more leads.
      • Closing on more customers.
      • Generating more revenue.
      • Expanding into a new market.
      • Becoming more sustainable or energy-efficient.

      Free Case Study Templates

      Showcase your company's success using these three free case study templates.

      • Data-Driven Case Study Template
      • Product-Specific Case Study Template
      • General Case Study Template
      • And more!
      Learn more

        Download Free

        All fields are required.

        You're all set!

        Click this link to access this resource at any time.

        3. Establish a case study medium.

        Next, you‘ll determine the medium in which you’ll create the case study. In other words, how will you tell this story?

        Case studies certainly don't have to be simple, text-based one-pagers. Using different media in your case study can allow you to promote your final piece on different channels.

        For example, while a written case study might just live on your website and get featured in a Facebook post, you can post an infographic case study on Pinterest and a video case study on your YouTube channel for maximum impact.

        Here are some different case study mediums to consider and ways to benefit from them:

        Written Case Study

        Consider writing your case study in the form of an ebook and converting it to a downloadable PDF. Then, gate the PDF behind a landing page and form that your readers fill out before downloading the piece. This enables your case study to generate leads for your business.

        Video Case Study

        Plan on meeting with the client and shooting an interview. Seeing the subject, in person, talk about the service you provided them can go a long way in the eyes of your potential customers. Plus, you can create cross-channel posts with the video, or take still images from the video to use with any social media account.

        Infographic Case Study

        Use the long, vertical format of an infographic to tell your success story from top to bottom.

        As you progress down the infographic, emphasize major KPIs using bigger text and charts that show the successes your client has had since working with you.

        Pro tip: Make the top of your infographic visually interesting to attract clicks. Don’t be afraid to front-load a particularly interesting statistic or detail — there’s no such thing as wasting it if nobody was reading it, right? Lead with something your target audience will find juicy.

        Podcast Case Study

        Podcasts are a platform for you to have a candid conversation with your client. This type of case study can sound more real and human to your audience — they'll know the partnership between you and your client was a genuine success.

        4. Find the right case study candidate.

        Writing about your previous projects requires more than picking a client and telling a story — you’ll need that client’s participation.

        You’ll need permission, quotes, and a plan to make it as easy on them as possible. To start, here are a few things to look for in potential candidates.

        Product Knowledge

        It helps to select a customer who's well-versed in the logistics of your product or service. That way, they can better speak to the value of what you offer in a way that makes sense and sounds good to future customers.

        Remarkable Results

        Clients that have seen the best results are going to make the strongest case studies. If their own businesses have seen an exemplary ROI from your product or service, they're more likely to convey the enthusiasm that you want your prospects to feel, too.

        One part of this step is to choose clients who have experienced an unexpected level of success from your product or service.

        When you‘ve provided non-traditional customers — in industries that you don’t usually work with, for example — with positive results, it can help to remove doubts from prospects.

        This can widen your appeal and attract more and varied clients.

        Recognizable Names

        While small companies can have powerful stories, bigger or more notable brands tend to lend their credibility to your own.

        In fact, 89% of consumers say they'll buy from a brand they already recognize over a competitor, especially if they already follow them on social media.

        Pro tip: It can be intimidating to revisit older clients, especially big names, and especially if they moved on with another company. But listen — if you did good work for them and saw results, you can be proud of that and they can be honest about what worked. Don’t be afraid to ask for their support with your case study.


        Customers that came to you after working with a competitor often have captivating highs and lows that make for a great story.

        Switchers can help highlight your competitive advantages and might even sway decisions in your favor if you have prospects on the fence.

        5. Contact your candidate for permission to write about them.

        To get the case study candidate involved, you have to set the stage for clear and open communication.

        That means outlining expectations and a timeline right away — not having a plan in place before you call your candidate is one of the biggest culprits in delayed case study creation.

        Most importantly, having a plan lined up helps in getting your subject‘s approval.

        When first reaching out to your case study candidate, provide them with the case study’s objective and format — both of which you will have come up with in steps #2 and #3 above.

        To get this initial permission from your subject, put yourself in their shoes — what would they want out of this case study?

        Although you‘re writing this for your own company’s benefit, your subject is far more interested in the benefit it has for them, so make the deal sweet.

        Benefits to Offer Your Case Study Candidate

        Here are four potential benefits you can promise your case study candidate to gain their approval.

        Product Discount

        This is a more tangible incentive you can offer your case study candidate, especially if they're a current customer of yours.

        If they agree to be your subject, offer them a product discount — or a free trial of another product — as a thank you for their help creating your case study.

        The bigger the scope and size of the study, the more you can make the case to your finance department to justify larger gifts and get more buy-in.

        Brand Exposure

        Explain to your subject how and to whom this case study will be exposed.

        This exposure can help increase their own brand awareness both in and beyond their own industry.

        In the B2B sector, brand awareness can be hard to collect outside one‘s own market, making case studies particularly useful to a client looking to expand their name’s reach.

        Employee Exposure

        Allow your subject to provide quotes with credits back to specific employees.

        When this is an option for them, their brand isn't the only thing expanding its reach — their employees can get their name out there, too.

        This presents your subject with networking and career development opportunities they might not have otherwise.

        Backlinks and Website Traffic

        Backlinks are a benefit sure to resonate with your subject‘s marketing team. When you publish your case study on your website, make sure that your study links back to your subject’s website. This is known as a “backlink.”

        If your reader clicks the link in your case study, it takes your reader to the subject's website. Essentially, this small gesture gives them additional website traffic from visitors who have read your case study.

        Additionally, a backlink from you increases your subject's page authority in the eyes of Google, which is growing in difficulty as AI infiltrates the internet.

        This helps them rank more highly in search engine results. Landing higher on the SERP enables them to collect more traffic from searchers who are looking for information about your subject’s industry.

        Once you know what you’re going to offer your candidate, go ahead and contact them to see if they are interested in featuring in a customer success story, with the promise of more details to follow.

        6. Ensure you have all the resources you need to proceed before you get a response.

        Now it’s time to prepare the resources needed for if — when! — they agree to participate. At the very least, you’ll need a case study release form and a success story letter.

        Let's break those two down.

        Case Study Release Form

        This document can vary, depending on factors like the size of your business, the nature of your work, and what you intend to do with the case study once it is completed.

        You’ll need permission to use any brand names and to share the project information publicly.

        You should typically aim to include the following in your Case Study Release Form:

        • A clear explanation of why you are creating this case study and how it will be used.
        • A statement defining the information and potentially trademarked information you expect to be able to include about the company — things like names, logos, job titles, and pictures.
        • An explanation of what you would expect from the participant beyond the completion of the case study. For example, is this customer willing to act as a reference or share feedback? Do you have permission to pass contact information along for these purposes?
        • A note about compensation.

        Success Story Letter

        This document serves as an outline for the entire case study process so your subject better understands the entire process they would be opting into.

        You'll want to be sure to define the details outlined in your Case Study Release Form within your Success Story Letter. There are many details you’ll need to think about so that you can clearly explain what the process will be like.

        Free Case Study Templates

        Showcase your company's success using these three free case study templates.

        • Data-Driven Case Study Template
        • Product-Specific Case Study Template
        • General Case Study Template
        • And more!
        Learn more

          Download Free

          All fields are required.

          You're all set!

          Click this link to access this resource at any time.

          7. Define the process you want to follow with the client.

          Before you can begin the case study, you have to have a clear outline of the case study process with your client. An example of an effective outline would include the following information.

          The Acceptance

          First, you‘ll need to receive internal approval from the company’s marketing team.

          Once approved, the Release Form should be signed and returned to you. It's also a good time to determine a timeline that meets the needs and capabilities of both teams.

          The Questionnaire

          To ensure that you have a productive interview — which is one of the best ways to collect information for the case study — you'll want to ask the participant to complete a questionnaire before this conversation.

          That will provide your team with the necessary foundation to organize the interview, and get the most out of it.

          The Interview

          Once the questionnaire is completed, someone on your team should reach out to the participant to schedule a 30- to 60-minute interview.

          This should include a series of custom questions related to the customer's experience with your product or service.

          The Draft Review

          After the case study is composed, you'll want to send a draft to the customer, allowing an opportunity to give you feedback and edits.

          The Final Approval

          Once any necessary edits are completed, send a revised copy of the case study to the customer for final approval.

          Once the case study goes live — on your website or elsewhere — it‘s best to contact the customer with a link to the page where the case study lives.

          Don’t be afraid to ask your participants to share these links with their own networks, as it not only demonstrates your ability to deliver positive results and impressive growth, as well.

          8. Download a case study email template.

          You’ve gathered your resources, and soon your candidate will get to explore the exciting details of participating in your case study.

          The case study release form communicates what you'll need from your chosen subject, and your success story letter outlines the process in its entirety.

          Hopefully by now they’ve replied that they are interested in working with you on a customer success story. It’s time to send your case study email!

          To give you an idea of what that might look like, check out this sample email.

          Screenshot of example of case study email template

          Image Source

          9. Ensure you're asking the right questions.

          Before you execute the questionnaire and actual interview, make sure you're setting yourself up for success. A strong case study results from being prepared to ask the right questions.

          Here are a few examples to get you started:

          • What are your goals?
          • What challenges were you experiencing before purchasing our product or service?
          • What made our product or service stand out against our competitors?
          • What did your decision-making process look like?
          • How have you benefited from using our product or service? (Where applicable, always ask for data.)

          Keep in mind that the questionnaire is designed to help you gain insights into what sort of strong, success-focused questions to ask during the actual interview.

          And once you get to that stage, I recommend that you follow the “Golden Rule of Interviewing.” Sounds fancy, right? It's actually quite simple — ask open-ended questions.

          If you‘re looking to craft a compelling story, "yes" or "no" answers won’t provide the details you need. Focus on questions that invite elaboration, such as, “Can you describe ...?” or, “Tell me about ...”

          In terms of the interview structure, I recommend categorizing the questions in a way that the answers flow into six specific sections that will mirror a successful case study format. Combined, they'll allow you to gather enough information to put together a rich, comprehensive study.

          Open with the customer's business.

          The goal of this section is to generate a better understanding of the company's current challenges and goals, plus how they fit into the landscape of their industry. Sample questions might include:

          • How long have you been in business?
          • How many employees do you have?
          • What are some of the objectives of your department at this time?

          Cite a problem or pain point.

          To tell a compelling story, you need context that helps match the customer's needs with your solution. Sample questions might include:

          • What challenges and objectives led you to look for a solution?
          • What might have happened if you did not identify a solution?
          • Did you explore other solutions before this that did not work out? If so, what happened?

          Discuss the decision process.

          Exploring how the customer decided to work with you helps to guide potential customers through their own decision-making processes.

          Sample questions might include:

          • How did you hear about our product or service?
          • Who was involved in the selection process?
          • What was most important to you when evaluating your options?

          Explain how a solution was implemented.

          The focus here should be placed on the customer's experience during the onboarding process. Sample questions might include:

          • How long did it take to get up and running?
          • Did that meet your expectations?
          • Who was involved in the process?

          Explain how the solution works.

          The goal of this section is to better understand how the customer is using your product or service. Sample questions might include:

          • Is there a particular aspect of the product or service that you rely on most?
          • Who is using the product or service?

          End with the results.

          In this section, you want to uncover impressive measurable outcomes — the more numbers, the better. Sample questions might include:

          • How is the product or service helping you save time and increase productivity?
          • In what ways does that enhance your competitive advantage?
          • How much have you increased metrics X, Y, and Z?

          It’s a smart idea to send a copy of your interview questions to your subject ahead of time so they can prepare strong answers and collect the numerical data you need from them.

          10. Lay out your case study format.

          When it comes time to take all of the information you‘ve collected and actually turn it into something useful, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I always do, but I also know that it works out in the end, so I just jump on in and work it through.

          So where should you start? What should you include? What's the best way to structure it?

          It‘s important to first understand that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the ways you can present a case study.

          They can be very visual, which you’ll see in some of the examples we've included below, and can sometimes be communicated through video or photos with a bit of accompanying text.

          Here are the sections I’d suggest, and I'll cover these in more detail after #11 below:

          • Title. Keep it short. Develop a succinct but interesting project name you can give the work you did with your subject.
          • Subtitle. Use this copy to briefly elaborate on the accomplishment. What was done? The case study itself will explain how you got there.
          • Executive Summary. A 2-4 sentence summary of the entire story. You'll want to follow it with 2-3 bullet points that display metrics showcasing success.
          • About the Subject. An introduction to the person or company you served, which can be pulled from a LinkedIn Business profile or client website.
          • Challenges and Objectives. A 2-3 paragraph description of the customer's challenges, before using your product or service. This section should also include the goals or objectives the customer set out to achieve.
          • How Product/Service Helped. A 2-3 paragraph section that describes how your product or service provided a solution to their problem.
          • Results. A 2-3 paragraph testimonial that proves how your product or service specifically benefited the person or company and helped achieve its goals. Include numbers to quantify your contributions.
          • Supporting Visuals or Quotes. Pick one or two powerful quotes that you would feature at the bottom of the sections above, as well as a visual that supports the story you are telling.
          • Future Plans. Everyone likes an epilogue. Comment on what's ahead for your case study subject, whether or not those plans involve you.
          • Call-to-Action (CTA). Not every case study needs a CTA, but putting a passive one at the end of your case study can encourage your readers to take an action on your website after learning about the work you've done.

          When laying out your case study, focus on conveying the information you've gathered in the most clear and concise way possible.

          Make it easy to scan and comprehend, and be sure to provide an attractive call-to-action at the bottom — that should provide readers an opportunity to learn more about your product or service.

          Free Case Study Templates

          Showcase your company's success using these three free case study templates.

          • Data-Driven Case Study Template
          • Product-Specific Case Study Template
          • General Case Study Template
          • And more!
          Learn more

            Download Free

            All fields are required.

            You're all set!

            Click this link to access this resource at any time.

            11. Publish and promote your case study.

            Once you‘ve completed your case study, it’s time to publish and promote it.

            Some case study formats have pretty obvious promotional outlets — a video case study can go on YouTube, just as an infographic case study can go on Pinterest.

            But there are still other ways to publish and promote your case study. Here are a couple of ideas.

            Lead Gen in a Blog Post

            As stated earlier, written case studies make terrific lead-generators if you convert them into a downloadable format, like a PDF.

            To generate leads from your case study, consider writing a blog post that tells an abbreviated story of your client‘s success and asking readers to fill out a form with their name and email address if they’d like to read the rest in your PDF.

            Then, promote this blog post on social media, through a Facebook post or a tweet.

            Published as a Page on Your Website

            As a growing business, you might need to display your case study out in the open to gain the trust of your target audience.

            Rather than gating it behind a landing page, publish your case study to its own page on your website, and direct people to it from your homepage with a “Case Studies” or “Testimonials” button along your homepage's top navigation bar.

            1. Title

            case study format, crunch fitness title

            Image Source

            The title is one of the most important parts of your case study. It should draw readers in while succinctly describing the potential benefits of working with your company. To that end, your title should:

            • State the name of your customer. Right away, the reader must learn which company used your products and services. This is especially important if your customer has a recognizable brand. If you work with individuals and not companies, you may omit the name and go with professional titles: “A Marketer…”, “A CFO…”, and so forth.
            • State which product your customer used. Even if you only offer one product or service, or if your company name is the same as your product name, you should still include the name of your solution. That way, readers who are not familiar with your business can become aware of what you sell.
            • Allude to the results achieved. You don’t necessarily need to provide hard numbers, but the title needs to represent the benefits, quickly. That way, if a reader doesn’t stay to read, they can walk away with the most essential information: Your product works.

            The example above, “Crunch Fitness Increases Leads and Signups With HubSpot,” achieves all three — without being wordy. Keeping your title short and sweet is essential.

            2. Subtitle

            case study format, crunch fitness subtitle

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            Your subtitle is another essential part of your case study — don’t skip it, even if you think you’ve done the work with the title.

            In this section, include a brief summary of the challenges your customer was facing before they began to use your products and services. Then, drive the point home by reiterating the benefits your customer experienced by working with you.

            The above example reads:

            “Crunch Fitness was franchising rapidly when COVID-19 forced fitness clubs around the world to close their doors. But the company stayed agile by using HubSpot to increase leads and free trial signups.”

            Pro tip: I like that the case study team expressed the urgency of the problem — opening more locations in the midst of a pandemic — and placed the focus on the customer’s ability to stay agile.

            3. Executive Summary

            case study format, dinner belle executive summary

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            The executive summary should provide a snapshot of your customer, their challenges, and the benefits they enjoyed from working with you.

            Think it’s too much? Think again — the purpose of the case study is to emphasize, again and again, how well your product works.

            The good news is that depending on your design, the executive summary can be mixed with the subtitle or with the “About the Company” section. Many times, this section doesn’t need an explicit “Executive Summary” subheading. You do need, however, to provide a convenient snapshot for readers to scan.

            In the above example, ADP included information about its customer in a scannable bullet-point format, then provided two sections: “Business Challenge” and “How ADP Helped.”

            Pro tip: Sometimes keeping it simple sells better than too much detail. I love how simple and easy the format is to follow for those who are unfamiliar with ADP or its typical customer.

            4. About the Company

            case study format, about the company for crunch fitness

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            Readers need to know and understand who your customer is.

            This is important for several reasons:

            • It helps your reader potentially relate to your customer.
            • It defines your ideal client profile (which is essential to deter poor-fit prospects who might have reached out without knowing they were a poor fit).
            • It gives your customer an indirect boon by subtly promoting their products and services.

            Feel free to keep this section as simple as possible. You can simply copy and paste information from the company’s LinkedIn, use a quote directly from your customer, or take a more creative storytelling approach.

            In the above example, HubSpot included one paragraph of description for Crunch Fitness and a few bullet points. Below, ADP tells the story of its customer using an engaging, personable technique that effectively draws readers in.

            case study format, storytelling about the company for dinner belle

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            5. Challenges and Objectives

            case study format, ideo case study for bendable

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            The challenges and objectives section of your case study is the place to lay out, in detail, the difficulties your customer faced prior to working with you — and what they hoped to achieve when they enlisted your help.

            In this section, you can be as brief or as descriptive as you’d like, but remember to stress the urgency of the situation. Don’t understate how much your customer needed your solution — but of course don’t exaggerate and lie, either.

            Provide contextual information as necessary. For instance, the pandemic and societal factors may have contributed to the urgency of the need.

            Take the above example from design consultancy IDEO:

            “To succeed in today’s knowledge economy means you can never stop learning. But educational opportunities for adults have become difficult to access in the United States, just when they’re needed most. Employers are demanding fresh skills faster than Americans can acquire them, and that’s leaving many behind.

            To counter this trend, IDEO helped the city of South Bend and the Drucker Institute launch Bendable, a community-powered platform that connects people with opportunities to learn with and from each other. Free to all, Bendable is sponsored and run by the city’s library system.”

            Pro tip: Lay out the challenge, what your customer wants to do about it, and how you made it possible. IDEO mentions the difficulties the United States faces at large, the efforts its customer is taking to address these issues, and the steps IDEO took to help them make it happen.

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              6. How Product/Service Helped

              case study format, ideo case study for bendable services

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              This is where you get your product or service to shine. Cover the specific benefits that your customer enjoyed and the features they gleaned the most use out of.

              You can also go into detail about how you worked with and for your customer.

              Maybe you met several times before choosing the right solution, or you consulted with external agencies to create the best package for them.

              Whatever the case may be, try to illustrate how easy and pain-free it is to work with the representatives at your company. After all, potential customers aren’t looking to just purchase a product. They’re looking for a dependable provider that will strive to exceed their expectations.

              In the above example, IDEO describes how it partnered with research institutes and spoke with learners to create Bendable, a free educational platform.

              Pro Tip: Show your proactivity and thoroughness. IDEO did a great job to make potential customers feel that they might do something similar for other clients.

              7. Results

              case study format, ideo case study results for bendable

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              The results are essential, and the best part is that you don’t need to write the entirety of the case study before sharing them. Like HubSpot, IDEO, and ADP, you can include the results right below the subtitle or executive summary.

              Use data and numbers to substantiate the success of your efforts, but if you don’t have numbers, you can provide quotes from your customers.

              I can’t overstate the importance of the results. In fact, if you wanted to create a short case study, you could include your title, challenge, solution (how your product helped), and result.

              8. Supporting Visuals or Quotes

              case study format, ideo case study for conservation international

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              Let your customer speak for themselves by including quotes from the representatives who directly interfaced with your company.

              Visuals can also help, even if they’re stock images. On one side, they can help you convey your customer’s industry, and on the other, they can indirectly convey your successes. For instance, a picture of a happy professional — even if they’re not your customer — will communicate that your product can lead to a happy client.

              In this example from IDEO, we see a man standing in a boat. IDEO’s customer is neither the man pictured nor the manufacturer of the boat, but rather Conservation International, an environmental organization.

              Pro tip: Break up blocks of text to keep your potential customer’s interest. Walls of text get boring quickly. The boat imagery referred to above provides a visually pleasing pattern interrupt to the page, while still conveying what the case study is about.

              9. Future Plans

              case study format, crunch fitness representative looking to the future

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              This is optional, but including future plans can help you close on a more positive, personable note than if you were to simply include a quote or the results.

              In this space, you can show that your product will remain in your customer’s tech stack for years to come, or that your services will continue to be instrumental to your customer’s success.

              Alternatively, if you work only on time-bound projects, you can allude to the positive impact your customer will continue to see, even years after the end of the contract.

              10. Call-to-Action (CTA)

              case study format, crunch fitness representative looking to the future

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              Not every case study needs a CTA, but I’d still encourage it. Putting one at the end of your case study will encourage your readers to take an action on your website after learning about the work you've done.

              It will also make it easier for them to reach out, if they’re ready to start immediately. You don’t want to lose business just because they have to scroll all the way back up to reach out to your team.

              Business Case Study Examples

              You drove the results, made the connection, set the expectations, used the questionnaire to conduct a successful interview, and boiled down your findings into a compelling story.

              And after all of that, you're left with a little piece of sales enabling gold — a case study.

              To show you what a well-executed final product looks like, have a look at some of these marketing case study examples.

              1. “Shopify Uses HubSpot CRM to Transform High Volume Sales Organization,” by HubSpot

              case study format, completed case study gif from shopify and hubspot

              What's interesting about this case study is the way it leads with the customer. This reflects a major HubSpot value, which is to always solve for the customer first.

              The copy leads with a brief description of why Shopify uses HubSpot, and it’s accompanied by a short video and some basic statistics on the company.

              Notice that this case study uses mixed media. Yes, there is a short video, but it‘s elaborated upon in the additional text on the page.

              So, while case studies can use one or the other, don’t be afraid to combine written copy with visuals to emphasize the project's success.

              2. “New England Journal of Medicine,” by Corey McPherson Nash

              case study format, completed case study gif from new england journal of medicine

              When branding and design studio Corey McPherson Nash showcases its work, it makes sense for it to be visual — after all, that‘s what they do.

              So in building the case study for the studio’s work on the New England Journal of Medicine‘s integrated advertising campaign — a project that included the goal of promoting the client’s digital presence — Corey McPherson Nash showed its audience what it did, rather than purely telling it.

              Pro tip: Catch eyes by letting targeted visuals do the talking. Notice that the case study above does include some light written copy — which includes the major points I‘ve suggested — but the visuals allow users to really absorb the studio’s services.

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                All fields are required.

                You're all set!

                Click this link to access this resource at any time.

                3. “Designing the Future of Urban Farming,” by IDEO

                case study format, completed case study gif from IDEO

                Here's a design company that knows how to lead with simplicity in its case studies. As soon as the visitor arrives at the page, he or she is greeted with a big, bold photo, and two very simple columns of text — “The Challenge” and “The Outcome.”

                Immediately, IDEO has communicated two of the case study‘s major pillars. While that’s great — the company created a solution for vertical farming startup INFARM‘s challenge — it doesn’t stop there.

                As the user scrolls down, those pillars are elaborated upon with comprehensive copy that outlines what that process looked like, replete with quotes and additional visuals.

                4. “Secure Wi-Fi Wins Big for Tournament,” by WatchGuard

                Then, there are the cases when visuals can tell almost the entire story — when executed correctly.

                Network security provider WatchGuard can do that through this video, which tells the story of how its services enhanced the attendee and vendor experience at the Windmill Ultimate Frisbee tournament.

                5. Freshbooks’ “How Zachary Uses Projects and Profitability Tools to Save $2K/Month”

                case study format, freshbooks case study on zamarts

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                In the case study above, Freshbooks uses photos, videos, and helpful stats to tell the story of how a small business owner is able to use Freshbooks’ profitability tools to get a handle on ROI on his clients and projects. They do an excellent job of lining up the problem, solution, and results right off the bat.

                Pro tip: Widen your portfolio of case studies by covering businesses of different sizes and in various stages of growth. This can help you attract more prospects to keep your pipeline full and your employees working even when you’re not in the middle of large projects.

                6. Small Desk Plant Business Ups Sales by 30% With Trello

                case study format, Trello case study on desk plants

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                This case study from Trello on Desk Plants is straightforward and easy to understand. It begins by explaining the background of the company that decided to use it, what its goals were, and how it planned to use Trello to help them.

                It then goes on to discuss how the software was implemented and what tasks and teams benefited from it. Towards the end, it explains the sales results that came from implementing the software and includes quotes from decision-makers at the company that implemented it.

                7. Facebook's Mercedes Benz Success Story

                Facebook's Success Stories page hosts a number of well-designed and easy-to-understand case studies that visually and editorially get to the bottom line quickly.

                Each study begins with key stats that draw the reader in. Then it's organized by highlighting a problem or goal in the introduction, the process the company took to reach its goals, and the results. Then, in the end, Facebook notes the tools used in the case study.

                case study format, completed case study gif from mercedes benz

                Showcasing Your Work

                You work hard at what you do. Now, it's time to show it to the world — and more importantly, to potential customers — with a great case study.

                Before you show off the projects that make you the proudest, I hope you follow these important steps that will help you effectively communicate that work and leave all parties feeling great about it.

                Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in February 2017 but was updated for comprehensiveness and freshness.

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