In case you didn’t know, crafting effective case studies for green businesses and sustainable brands is kind of our thing. You have smart, thoughtful clients—and you don’t want to put them to sleep with a boring, dry case study. Right? Unfortunately, most of the case studies you’ll read from solar installers, sustainability consultants, eco-conscious construction companies, and green architectural firms are snooze-fests—even to the most tech-nerdy of us. Sure, you could accept this as the standard. Or, you could breathe life into your case studies and make them informative, entertaining, and persuasive pieces of content that consumers and industry leaders alike will want to read.
Your customers want to know who you’ve helped and how you helped them. A great case study shows future clients what you can do for them and why your business is better than the competition. Is your product the most innovative? Does your customer service team go above and beyond? Are you leading the charge on a particular new technology in your industry?
Here are seven ways to better showcase your data-driven customer and product success stories through strategic case studies.
1) Focus on Human Interest Elements
“Case study” may sound a little cold. But, rest assured, it’s very possible to warm up this long-form promotional content with the stories of real people, opinion-altering experiences, and emotionally powerful outcomes. While you want your case study to be full of substantiating data points, delivering statistics and lists of facts is not as effective without editorial context.
It’s best to think of your case studies as a storytelling opportunity, where your customer is the supporting character and you’re the hero! Use plenty of quotes from your customer and other industry experts you worked with to complete the project or design your latest product. Also, incorporate high-quality images and video when possible. Showing is sometimes better than telling, especially when it comes to complex technical subjects. Think WHO’s problem are you solving instead of WHAT problem are you solving.
A great example of this might be a sustainable housing development project. Your audience absolutely needs to know which energy-efficiency certifications your project earned and the technologies you used to achieve your sustainable construction goals. BUT, it’s more interesting to accompany this information with quotes from employees and investors. Or even an interview with a current tenant who saves money on their utilities and feels great about helping to preserve our environment.
2) Hard Data is Where It’s At
Data is the meat in your case study sandwich (sorry vegetarians). Practice delivering stats and industry info at an 8th-grade level. This doesn’t mean you should talk down to your audience. But you must be able to explain your data points in a simple, easy-to-understand way. Clogging up your case study with technical jargon and acronyms can exhaust your reader’s attention span.
Whenever possible, be precise with your data. Instead of saying your commercial customer tripled their energy savings when they switched to solar power, say they saved $XXXX in a year after your company installed solar panels. Giving hard numbers and dollar amounts lends more credibility.
Similarly, if you use graphs or charts to illustrate data, make sure to offer plenty of context. Don’t just drop a graph into your case study and expect it to convince your audience of anything. Explain the significance of visuals and reference them throughout your case study.
3) Creative Formatting is Your Friend
Case studies are long and full of important details. Unfortunately, even smarties like your customers probably have the attention span of a housefly. To help readers absorb complex information, you’ll want to exercise your formatting skills.
To make your content skimmable and easy to absorb, try using shorter paragraphs broken up with images and visuals. You can also incorporate bullet points and numbered sections or italicize or bold the most important statements you don’t want readers to miss.
A large chunk of text is intimidating. By splitting it up into bite-sized pieces, you actually increase the likelihood of your audience reading the entire case study. Plus, content with a high readability score ranks better in search engines. Better search engine optimization means future clients will organically find your content and (hopefully) reach out for your help.
4) When in Doubt—Add Video
Many of our clients are now adding a video component to their case studies. Long-form text content is very valuable for SEO, and so is video. We suggest both! Many people still prefer to read informational content like case studies. But video is quickly gaining favor with younger audiences. We love to include video components in our case studies to increase engagement and social shares, easily convey key takeaways, and act as a convenient summary.
5) Promote That Beautiful Case Study
Don’t be shy. Case studies for green businesses do no good hanging out in the resources section of your website or on your blog. Reach your audience where they hang out— on social media and in their email inbox.
Depending on your customer demographics, you may want to promote your piece on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Tease long-form content in your Instagram and Facebook Stories, or through live video. Post snippets of some of your best visual elements on Instagram and point them to a link to the full case study in your bio. Tweet key statistics and link out to your website. Post a summarized version of your case study as a LinkedIn Pulse article, then link to the full version on your website.
You can also distribute case studies by creating an email campaign. Or, simply include it in your monthly e-newsletter. But, whatever you do, don’t just create an awesome case study and expect readers to magically find it. Promote that beautiful case study!
6) Use Your Case Study for PR Outreach
Have you ever submitted your case studies for green businesses for an industry award? Try it! You can even team up with clients and show how your partnership is making the world a better place. Folks like the Business Intelligence Group look to honor sustainable brands each year. Just submit a nomination and their panel of judges will review your content. Then you can use services like PressCable to distribute press releases to high traffic media outlets if you get recognized. This crafty link building will help you increase the SEO value of your website and boost organic traffic.
7) Let Others Brag for You
Sure, you could toot your own horn. But it makes you look a little full of yourself. It’s much more valuable to share the praises of others in your case studies. Instead of directly saying how your product or service helps your customers, let the customer say it for you through quotes and embedded testimonials. Studies show that 72 percent of customers won’t purchase products or services without reading a review first. Case studies are the ultimate in-house review, where you can control the conversation.
Case studies, when done right, can be a powerful marketing tool that help you connect with your target market on a deeper, more meaningful level. AKA, they can help you get those valuable leads! So what are you waiting for? If you’re excited but still not totally sure where to start, send us a message! We’re ready to help you prove that case studies for sustainable development can be both moving and memorable.