B2B case studies help close sales because they tell prospects true stories about real people at actual companies to answer both their frequently-asked and unspoken questions.
Hawkeye’s new B2B Buyer Journey Research survey discovered B2B buyers still say that word-of-mouth is the most influential purchasing driver for complex products across all channels. It also indicated that case studies and testimonials were cited by 77% and 71% of respondents as most important in both the awareness and evaluation stages of the process by B2B decision makers. Evidently, case studies are seen as an objective referral from knowledgeable third parties.
Success stories are effective because prospects recognize certain aspects of their companies, their employees, their day-to-day problems and ultimately the solutions and results they’d like to implement and experience.
When seeking new products, services and providers, B2B decision makers tend to ask peers and colleagues for referrals and recommendations, then complement that information with their own research turning to everything from industry associations to search engines. Once they’ve identified the options, they look to third-party reviews which often include content such as case studies.
Eccolo Media and Sprocket Media’s 2014 B2B Technology Content Survey Report found that case studies rank as the second most influential content type in the purchase process for small businesses and large enterprises. In their 2015 survey, they discovered 42% of respondents consumed case studies/success stories as well as product brochures/data sheets, email, white papers, competitive vendor worksheets to evaluate purchases.
As importantly, B2B case studies must be written in an objective, credible newspaper- or magazine-style tone with a focus on facts and quotes and resolutely avoid bold, sweeping, over-the-top statements.
To inform, educate and influence prospects, an eMarketer survey notes that case studies and other forms of content marketing must help identify new solutions and approaches to solving problems/needs and highlight solution providers who understand our issues and challenges.
Finally, The Content Marketing Institute’s survey, B2 B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, found 77% of respondents use case study content as a marketing tactic and report that case studies rank in the top three for effective B2B tactics only after in-person events and webinars/webcasts and before white papers, videos, research reports, eNewsletters, blogs, infographics and more.
The best B2B case studies let customers candidly address their challenges and report on the tangible, measurable ROIs:
- increased productivity
- improved efficiency
- reduced downtime
- accurate real-time data
- actionable accessible reports
- reduced headcount
- enhanced inventory control
While not as easily quantified, soft and less tangible benefits also relieve a variety of pains:
- employees reallocated to more value-added roles
- better control over orders
- fewer customer complaints
- more satisfied customers
- elevated employee morale