“We had testimonials, blog content, and reviews, but we didn’t have anything that showcased our wins.”
These were the words of Chris Dreyer, Founder, and CEO of Rankings.io, an SEO company that specializes in ranking law firms on search engines.
Operating in a highly competitive niche, Chris found it hard to convince potential customers that they are the best at what they do.
And the reason isn’t far-fetched.
Any SaaS founder or marketer can make claims about how great their product or service is.
But to get prospects to trust you, it’s crucial to show (not tell) them how your product has helped similar companies solve their problems.
And what better way to do this than crafting compelling, engaging case studies?
With case studies, you share relatable stories about how your product was instrumental in helping your customers solve their problems or achieve their goals.
As a result, you’ll win their trust and quickly convert them into Product-Qualified Leads (PQLs), free trial users, or paying customers.
And this is exactly what Chris did:
“We’ve closed seven deals in the past month—$179,444 worth of deals—and case studies helped close them all.”
But the problem?
Lots of SaaS case studies are too formal, boring, and mostly full of facts, figures, and promotional content.
As such, it makes them instantly forgettable. And this doesn’t help in driving user growth.
Ross Simmonds, CEO of Foundation, shared the same thought:
To ensure your case study does a great job of converting readers into customers, it needs to:
- Start and end with relatable stories that make the entire case study memorable. A Stanford University Study revealed stories make facts and figures 2200% easier to remember.
- Be compelling enough to drive them to action.
How do you craft compelling SaaS case studies, you ask?
That’s exactly what you’ll discover in this article.
Can you use SaaS case studies as top of funnel content?
You’ve successfully attracted and engaged your prospects with top and middle-of-funnel content.
Now, it’s time for the business of the day – to convert them to clients.
That’s where bottom-of-funnel content comes in.
They are the last content pieces prospects read before making a decision on whether to use your product. As such, they must have read other types of content before reading your case study.
According to CMI, case studies are ranked as the most effective content type in the evaluation stage.
But with self-serve products emerging every day, can case studies be more than just bottom-of-funnel content?
Once you publish your case study, you are expected to promote it on social media, groups, forums, and other channels where your ideal clients are.
That’s content distribution 101.
But what happens when they read it?
They seek more information about your product and probably sign up for a free trial or create a freemium account.
Because they’ve seen how your product has helped other users solve their problems.
As such, it eliminates the need for reading other content types before trying out your product.
They simply go from strangers to free trial/freemium users just by reading one content piece.
Strangers -> Case study -> Users
But for this to happen, your case study must be compelling enough to convince readers to try out your product.
It needs to show them that your product is the perfect solution to problems.
And the best way to do this is by crafting product-led case studies. This way, you can easily convert prospects to customers even at the top of the marketing funnel.
Two things we’ve established so far are:
- Case studies can be used as top-of-funnel content in your SaaS content marketing strategy.
- Writing case studies with a product-led approach will help to show (not tell) your ideal customer profiles (ICPs) how to overcome specific challenges with your product.
What you need to do before crafting SaaS case studies
Are you familiar with the filmmaking process?
It involves several complex stages like developing ideas, buying rights, screenwriting, financing, casting, etc.
And all these happen long before actors go on set.
The same thing applies to writing a case study. There are some essential stages you have to pass through before pen hits paper.
And they are:
1. Find the right client(s) to Interview
When prospects read a well-crafted case study, they visualize themselves overcoming their challenges with your product.
For this to happen, your existing clients must have impressive results with your product. A clear ROI or increased productivity, perhaps.
This way, you can approach them for an interview with a higher likelihood of them saying yes.
That’s why it’s essential to understand the customer persona you want to attract with your case study, especially if your product serves different job roles, companies, or industries
For instance, if you want to attract tech founders, ideally, you’d narrate the story of a founder who faced the same challenges they are facing and overcame them using your product.
Would the case study of a founder work for a marketing manager?
It would not.
Because they have different pain points.
As such, you have to create another case study narrating the story of a marketing manager using your product to solve their problem.
The same thing applies when creating case studies for different industries.
People want to see your product work in an industry similar to theirs.
You get the idea, right?
Once you’ve found the right client, you can send an email requesting permission for an interview.
The email should contain the case study process and how you intend to use it.
Editor’s tip: it doesn’t have to be an email. Go where your customers are. If you use Twitter DMs or Slack, stay there 😊
2. Prepare your case study questions
Writing case studies helps you paint a picture of life before, during, and after a client uses your product.
So, to get a real experience and turn it into a compelling story, there are some crucial questions you need to ask your client.
You can use the CSR (Challenge, Solution, Result) format to get the core stories of their experience with your product.
Challenge case study questions
- What challenges were you facing before you found a solution?
- How did these challenges impact your business/revenue?
- What other tools/products did you try?
- Why did you choose us over other competitors?
Solution case study questions
- What was it like when you started using our product?
- What kind of problems did our product help you solve?
- Which features did you like the most in our product?
- How long did it take before you started seeing results?
Result case study questions
- How has your business improved since you started using our product?
- What kind of results did you get? (in metrics)
- How would you describe your experience using our product?
- Is there anything you’d like to discuss that we haven’t talked about yet?
These questions are not set in stone. Customize them as you see fit.
The goal of asking these questions is to get a mix of stats, quotes, and stories you can use to write a compelling case study.
And if your product truly helped them overcome their problems, they will be more than happy to answer all these questions.
Pro tip: Avoid asking close-ended questions that require a yes/no answer. Instead, ask open-ended questions to get more elaborate answers (stories).
3. Determine the interview format
Gone are those days when you had to travel miles to interview a client.
In a tech-driven world, there are different formats you can interview your client without moving an inch.
It’s important to offer different options as some clients may not be comfortable with video. Perhaps they prefer speaking on the phone or sending an email.
Using video (real-time or async) does open the door to them expressing themselves more so than in the written word. (That’s your job.)
If a client chooses a video interview, here are some tips to ensure it’s a success:
- Be somewhere with a reliable internet connection
- Test your microphone and camera to ensure they are working
- Stay in a quiet place
- Keep to time
- Ask for permission before recording
- Listen more and speak less
4. Conduct the interview
If you are conducting a video or phone interview, sending your client the case study questions before the actual date is an excellent idea.
This will give them ample time to think about the questions first and get all the information you require before the D-day.
Also, it helps them feel more comfortable during the interview since they already know what to expect.
Once you are done with the interview, the next step is to analyze it so you can pick out major stories that you’ll use in your case study.
Hiten Shah, Co-Founder at Quick Sprout, had this to say about customer interviews:
“It’s better to finish all the interviews before analyzing them.
By separating the interviewing and the analysis, you avoid spreading yourself too thin between two different tasks. And when you try to analyze what you hear while doing the interviews, it’s another way to introduce bias into your learnings.
You also give yourself time to step away and let your mind subconsciously process the interviews, which will give you better results when you start analyzing later.”
And after the interview, you can follow up for more details if necessary.
Once you’ve got all the information you need, the next step is writing.
How to craft a compelling SaaS case study
What do great movies like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter have in common?
I’ll tell you.
A narrative (story) arc.
It means every story has a quiet beginning, a middle where tension, character conflict, and narrative momentum builds to a climax, and an end where the conflict is resolved.
Apply this story arc to your case study and watch as conversions increase.
And it starts with:
1. An attention-grabbing headline
How many times have you read a book or watched a movie just because of the title?
That’s the job of a great headline – to interest people enough that it compels them to stop scrolling, open your piece, and read the first sentence.
Here’s a fact:
No one will go on Google to search for how your product helped X company solve a Y problem.
So, the only way to get more eyes to your SaaS case study is to promote it on social media, your website, Facebook groups, or through paid ads.
Pair it with an attention-grabbing headline; they’ll be more inclined to read it.
To make your headline more powerful and get more people curious, be sure to include:
- The case study company name
- A relatable pain point
- The result they achieved
Here are some headline formulas you can use in your case study:
- How [product/feature] helped [client] to get [result]
- How [client] got [result] with [product/feature]
- How [client] eliminated [pain] with [product/feature]
- How [product/feature] helped [client] solve [pain]
For example, here’s a case study headline I wrote for HoneyCart, a commission-free catering software.
This headline highlights how the client (Low Country Quisine) achieved result (increased catering sales by $27k) with catering automation (the main feature of HoneyCart).
Here’s another example from Zylo, a SaaS management platform.
The headline highlights how a specific feature (Zylo’s SaaS renewal calendar) addressed a particular problem (unwanted auto-renewals) and led to a significant benefit ($50,000+ saved) for the client (Keap).
Now, answer this real quick.
What’s one thing common with these two case study headlines?
The use of numbers.
Using numbers or percentages in your headline makes it specific, attracts more attention, and increases the chances of people reading your case study.
Take a look at the examples below:
- Drive conversions vs Drive conversions rate 3x
- Save time vs Save up to 40 hours
- Increase revenue vs Increase revenue by 300%
- Get more orders vs Get 20 more orders
- Reduce processing time vs Reduce processing time by 80%
Which ones pack more punch?
The ones with numbers, right?
But in situations where you don’t have numbers, follow the advice from Joel Klettke, founder of the Case Study Buddy.
In his words:
“If you don’t have any big, sexy metrics to use, leverage the headline to highlight a relatable challenge or pain point instead.”
Once you’ve written your headline, the next thing is:
2. Introduce your customer
Like in a movie, you use this part to introduce a reader to the hero of the story – your client instead of just diving straight into the challenges they encountered.
Here you can discuss who your client is, their industry, their location, one or two challenges they faced, and the result they got.
Then end it by asking readers to read on to find how your product helped your client overcome their challenges.
At this point, you are gradually building momentum.
This section should be short and straight to the point.
If you don’t have details about your client, be sure to ask them during the interview.
3. The challenge
Your client didn’t just wake up one morning and decided to pay for your product, did they?
There were underlying problems they wanted to get rid of that led them to search for a solution.
So, this part is where you highlight those problems and how they affected their sales, growth, revenue, efficiency, or productivity.
Start by showing (not telling) how stressful, tiring, or frustrating life was before your client found your product. Ensure you include multiple hard-hitting client quotes to increase credibility and add a different dynamic to the story.
This way, your story will feel personal and become emotional for readers that have similar pain points. It will also make them look forward to the solution.
Here’s an example:
4. The solution
At this point, the reader is deep into the story.
They are eager to know how you solved the hero’s problems. So, this is where you position your product as the knight in shining armor.
Here are some tips you can use to make your solution section more appealing:
- Why they chose you over the competition
- Highlight specific features of your product your client found helpful
- Include compelling client quotes that fit the narrative
- Add screenshots of your product in action (show, don’t tell).
In fact, doing this last point will also make your case study scannable and enjoyable to read.
The main goal of this section is to help the reader experience the relief, joy, and transformation that your client also experienced after overcoming their challenges with your product.
Make it count!
5. The result
Like every great story, here’s the part where you show the reader what the happy ending was like for the hero of your story.
This way, you’ll get the reader to visualize getting the same results.
In this section, you discuss metrics like:
- How many hours saved
- Percentage increase in sales, revenue, productivity
- Percentage decrease in processing time
- Number of new conversions
But what if you signed a non-disclosure agreement with your client not to display metrics publicly?
Here’s what you can do.
Share how your product transformed your client’s business. Then use quotes, screenshots, and happy clients’ pictures to add more credibility and human touch.
Putting a face to your case study makes your reader think, “If Jim got these results, then I can too.”
In short, articles with images get 94% more views.
6. The conclusion (and your CTA)
If you did a great job in the above stages, your reader should already be looking for the next line of action.
So, you can conclude your case study by re-emphasizing the challenges your client faced before using your product and how they are in a much better situation.
Then ask them to take action if they also want the same results.
However, to increase conversions, don’t use weak, generic CTAs like contact us or sign up now.
Instead, your CTA should be more valuable by leading your reader to the next step.
Examples of valuable CTAs:
- Start your free 14-day trial
- Get my free playbook
- Show me my heat map
- Become a conversion magnet
Pro tip: Your reader may already be sold before getting to the conclusion of your story.
So it’s a great idea to create different CTAs at the top, middle, and end of your case study. This way, the reader can take action at various touchpoints.
The importance of distributing your case study
Many SaaS founders and marketers make one giant mistake:
They spend 80% of their time creating content and only 20% sharing it. If that.
But you’ll agree with me that no matter how great your case study is, people won’t read it if they don’t know it exists?
And that’s why content promotion is crucial in driving traffic to your content pieces.
As such, you have to put as much energy into promoting your case study as you did in creating it.
The best part?
Case studies don’t always have to be in blog format.
Depending on the platform, you can repurpose a case study into slide decks, infographics, videos, or podcasts.
Speaking of platforms, here are other places to promote your case study:
- Your email list
- Social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter)
- Forums (Quora, Reddit, Medium)
- Facebook Groups
- Slack channels
- Send to your clients to share with their network
- Run paid ads to promote your case study
The more eyes you get to your case study, the more conversions you are likely to get.
Dominic Kent, Founder of UC Marketing, put together a content distribution checklist he uses for every single piece of personal and client work.
Every time something is published, he works through this content promotion checklist.
Conclusion: acquire more users with engaging SaaS case studies
Competition for customers’ attention is at an all-time high.
You need to be on your A-game to have any chance of winning their hearts.
And one way to do this is by creating SaaS case studies that will nudge them towards becoming PQLs, trial, or freemium users.