While both B2B and B2C buyers have been influenced by the advancement of social media and the Internet over the last decade, the approaches required to appeal to these different types of buyers are distinct.
Where consumer-based purchases are often driven by emotion and personal desires, B2B buyers are simply looking for a solution that provides the return they expect. Business transactions also tend to be larger in value and involve more decision-makers than a consumer purchase.
The differences between B2B and B2C marketing are the main reason case studies are so valuable in a B2B setting. A case study provides a prospect with actual data and opinions from real customers, which does a much better job of predicting potential purchase outcomes.
Below are a few reasons case studies are such an important part of B2B marketing efforts in modern commerce.
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The top benefits of case studies in B2B marketing
Builds credibility and trust
It’s relatively easy for any kind of marketer to use exaggerated claims in social media posts and website content. These days, many Internet consumers are so used to being pitched with hyperbolic claims like “one simple trick to lose weight” that they automatically tune out any content created and published solely by the brand itself.
It’s a sad but true state of affairs in marketing today: the large amount of unhelpful, irrelevant content being pushed on prospects has made them naturally skeptical of any kind of content – even if it actually could help them.
On the other hand, a case study simply takes a look at real-world results from people that have actually purchased the product or service. The best case studies will include quotes from the client being profiled so they can illustrate what the purchase was like in their own words.
Hearing about real positive results from an actual person or organization that has used your products or services increases a prospect’s confidence that they can achieve those results as well.
This helps a prospect feel more informed about your company’s offerings, which in turn makes them feel like they can trust what you’re selling. Even an incremental increase in this trust can help your company stand out among competitors with a similar offer.
Provides natural movement down the sales funnel
There are some forms of marketing where it’s unclear what the next step should be. For example, after reading a brochure for a particular product or set of services, a potential customer may feel like they are more informed.
But what are they supposed to do next? It’s not always clear.
Because a case study offers an example of a specific outcome achieved by using your products or services, there’s a straightforward next step for the person reading it. Ideally, your case study should come with a simple way to get in touch with your team to schedule a meeting or complete the next step in your sales funnel.
Even if your case study doesn’t have a direct call to action, there’s an easy way for you or your sales team to follow up once the prospect has read the case study: ask them if they are looking for similar results in their own company.
This naturally gets them thinking about their own situation and why they need your product or service. It helps the buyer start to visualize what it would be like if you were able to offer a result similar to the one illustrated by your case study.
With the right marketing tools set up, you could even automate this part of the process and make it so that a prospect automatically receives an email from a sales rep or a company email address a few days after they download the case study. This helps maintain a seamless flow of prospects through various stages in your sales funnel with minimal manual effort on the part of your team.
Provides efficient, scalable marketing assets
Case studies are certainly valuable for customers and prospects, who get to evaluate a more objective form of information about a product or service they are considering. But case studies are also valuable internally as part of a company’s marketing effort.
That’s because they are a relatively cost-efficient, scalable way to market a company. While there are some upfront costs involved with creating a case study – especially if you’re working with a reliable digital marketing partner to help you create these kinds of assets – you only have to invest in creating the case study once.
After that, you’re free to use it as many times as you want for as long as you’d like. It’s not a finite resource, like a meeting or presentation with someone on your team – there is no limit on the number of times you can send out a case study to help convince a potential buyer to go with your offering.
Tips for building a case study
By now you may be convinced of the importance of case studies, but you may be struggling with the “how” instead of the “why.” Every company will need to survey its customers and prospects to decide the ideal way to create and distribute, but here are a few tips for producing case studies that apply to almost every company:
Use multimedia formats
Text-based case studies that are placed into a well-designed online brochure are the most common form. They are relatively straightforward to produce: gather materials from the customer being profiled, have someone write the text of the case study, then get it designed and published in a form that can be distributed (typically a PDF).
But just because this is the most common way to produce a case study doesn’t mean it’s the most effective. Video marketing is extremely popular these days, especially as more and more decision-makers need to access information on their mobile devices. There are many different ways to produce a video, from a simple screen recording with commentary to a more elaborate production with a studio and on-camera interviews.
Another idea is an audio case study. If you’re already publishing a podcast or audio show – one of the best ways to connect with B2B buyers – why not interview a previous customer and devote one episode to them as an audio case study? Experiment with different channels until you find one that seems to fit best for your audience and internal processes.
Showcase different kinds of customers
Most (but not all) B2B companies have a few different kinds of customers, either of varying sizes or in different industries. Companies that offer B2B services, in particular, may have a few different specific services meant for one or two ideal customer personas.
If possible, try to create a case study for each of your different service offerings. If you serve clients across a few major industries, strive to create a case study for each industry so you can highlight the unique benefits of your service.
More specific case studies will feel personalized to prospects in different industries, making them even more attuned to the benefits of your service. This can give you a significant advantage when they make a buying decision.
Conclusion: Case studies move the needle in B2B Marketing
Understanding the benefits of case studies is only half the battle: you need to realize these benefits by starting the process of developing, designing and distributing case studies to your sales prospects. You can always start off with a basic format and add more depth to case studies as you create more over time.
Credo can connect you with our network of vetted digital marketing providers who have deep experience across the most common digital marketing disciplines like SEO, Facebook, and more. Whether you’re looking to improve your SEO rankings or develop a comprehensive content strategy, we can match you with the right providers for your needs.
If you’re ready to shorten the amount of time it takes you to bring on the marketing team you need for consistent growth, schedule a free consultation with us today to learn how to get started.