So, you’ve crafted the perfect case study (using the five ingredients to create an engaging case study, of course) and you’re ready to share it with the world.
If you’re like most Website teams, you plop your case study into a rotating carousel somewhere on the home or product page along with the rest of the “oh, by the way” content. Then you watch your traffic stats with baited breath in the hopes that someone clicks on it.
Considering that case studies are the third most influential type of content (according to Eccolo Media’s 2015 B2B Technology Content Survey Report), leaving their visibility to chance is hardly a smart marketing strategy.
So, what is the best way to present your case study?
To find out, we examined the case study presentation techniques used by the 25 siteIQ eBusiness Index Websites. Based on this examination we discovered that there are currently four distinct techniques in play: grids, carousels, full zones, and at-a-glance.
But, which one works best? Should you use the latest grid-based fashion or carousels? Or is a full-fledged zone the way to go?
To answer these questions, we dug deeper into our research. And what did we find? That there isn’t one perfect way to present case studies. In fact, each approach has a unique sweet spot that can increase the visibility of your case studies — as well as other types of content.
So, what is the best way to display your case studies to maximum effect? Our best practice performers will give you some inspiration.
“While easy to overlook, the way your case study looks is just as important as what it says.” Sarah Bennett, How to Put Together a Case Study
Usually, resource presentation formats are governed by the site’s design. If grid formats look good with the design, then grid layouts are used. That’s great for the site’s look and feel, but not always for getting eyes on your content.
It turns out that each presentation format has a niche that will elevate the visibility of your case studies — and help other content resources become more accessible too. The question is, which one is right for the job?
Grid designs are great for presenting case studies that have named and anonymous customers. Case study titles that use name-brands draw visitor’s attention, which makes the anonymous case studies more visible.
To get the biggest payoff, the grid should only deliver case studies. Mixing case studies with other types of content make it difficult for visitors to identify the information presented – especially when they’re scanning the page.
Capgemini.com puts all case studies in one place using vibrant imagery and engaging (and sometimes downright entertaining) titles and summaries. And if the case studies don’t meet the visitor’s needs, the company’s blogs and news items are close at hand.
The only problem with Capgemini.com’s approach is that any additional case studies are currently inaccessible. Adding a small “Read more case studies” link at the bottom of the panel would make all of Capgemini.com’s case studies available for visitors — which proves that Capgemini is loved by more than 10 customers.
Carousels are perfect for home and landing pages where there is a wealth of other content and topics vying for visitor’s attention. They’re compact, simple, and relatively easy to scan. Yet despite all their benefits, carousels still get a bad rap — and for good reason.
In the best case, carousels provide space for an eye-catching image, witty title, and interesting summary. Unfortunately, carousels are rarely used in this way. Instead, they generally deliver little more than stock images and watered-down introductions.
In the worst case, carousels are stocked with any resource on the shelf and the panel breathes when the summary overruns the space provided.
The moral of the story: make your carousel relevant, interesting, and don’t let it breathe.
Brocade.com’s home page case study carousel gets a best practice nod for its high visibility and clear labeling. It’s labeled “Success Stories” and the delivery format is clearly marked: “Watch Now” for video and “Read Now” for prose. What’s more, the carousel only displays one case study at a time, which helps visitors focus on the case study that’s on display.
Cognizant.com takes case study carousels one step further by presenting the summaries of four case studies in a single panel. As visitors roll over each square, a short summary and benefit statement come into view.
This high-profile design has a couple benefits. First, it is hard to overlook on the page. The bold, colorful design draws the eye and makes the case studies easy to spy. Second, it allows visitors to read through four case studies in record time.
While we give Cognizant.com a nod for this innovative approach, it does have its flaws. First, there aren’t any links to a full case study or a case study library. Second, bold data points (such as customer data or improvements) would do a better job in capturing visitors’ attention and make this format more engaging.
The bottom line is you can’t really do case studies justice unless your site has a full-fledged case study zone. Why? Because it’s the only way to present all your case studies without competing with other compelling resources. What’s more, it shows that you have more fans than just those three whose success stories are displayed in a carousel.
To get the absolute most out of a case studies area, you should include a “customers” link in your site’s global navigational panel so visitors can easily find them.
Adobe.com’s SMB area gets props for beauty — no big surprise there considering design is Adobe’s bread and butter. But this zone doesn’t just deliver eye-catching graphics, it also includes an F1 video accompanied by a slew of other beautiful videos.
At-a-glance case studies
“Case studies are detailed analyses of specific instances or events. They’re an awesome sales tool in their own right, but they can be enhanced further with testimonials from the customers in question.” By Sujan Patel, 9 Strategies for Using Customer Testimonials in Your Content
Not all case studies tell a story in prose. A new style of case study has arrived on the scene that uses little more than a customer quote and smattering of data. These at-a-glance case studies are perfect for inserting proof points into any page, including as an intro for a case study library.
HPE.com’s at-a-glance case studies draw visitors in with a strong benefit statement and bold data points, followed by a customer quote. This approach does not include links to a full case study. This panel is simply there to make a statement on the page.
Salesforce.com takes a page out of HPE.com’s playbook but shakes it up a bit. Where HPE.com hooks visitors with a benefit statement, Salesforce.com leads with a customer quote. Salesforce.com also focuses more on the products American Express uses than the bold data points. The real added value Salesforce.com delivers, however, is the unobtrusive “See all customer stories” link on the bottom of the panel.
Although these presentation approaches are vastly different from each other, they have four best practices in common:
- They keep them separated. The best presentations don’t mix case studies with other types of content resources.
- Calls to action are specific and clear. Visitors don’t “Learn More,” they “Watch” and “Read.”
- They name drop when they can. Some customers like to remain anonymous, while others want to be front and center. The best sites mix them up to give them equal airtime.
- They use the right format for the job. Each presentation approach is positioned in the right place for maximum impact.
By using the best approach for each location, your case study emerges from the shadows of the rest of the “oh by the way” content resources to capture the eyes of your visitors. Even better, it shows your customers that they – and their story — matters.
What better way is there to turn a prospect into a customer – and make a customer a loyal member of the family?
Category: Case Study
Class: Best Practice
Websites Profiled: Adobe.com, HPE.com, Capgemini.com, Cognizant.com, Brocade.com, Salesforce.com