Learn exactly what a marketing case study is, how to write one that stands out, and review some examples of existing, successful studies.
Introduction to Marketing Case Studies
If you’ve ever heard your doctor say “wow, that’s one for the textbooks” during a physical examination, odds are you probably didn’t feel so good about it. In the marketing world ,however, being the first to find success in new and noteworthy ways is what sets you apart from thousands…most of the time in a good way.
And while groundbreaking marketing campaigns won’t land you in Grey’s Anatomy, it can make for a brilliant case study shared in classrooms and conference rooms around the world. As any big brand like Coca Cola, Tylenol, and American Airlines can tell you, these records solidify your brand as thought leaders.
But before we indulge too deeply in fantasies of marketing grandeur, let’s make sure we cover the basics. What exactly is a case study, what constitutes a good one, and most importantly, how do you build one? We’ll explore it all as well as share some of our favorite marketing case study examples. Let’s get started!
What is a Marketing Case Study?
According to Curata, “a case study in the context of marketing is an analysis of a project, campaign or company that identifies a situation, recommended solutions, implementation actions, and identification of those factors that contributed to failure or success.”
Even though, at its core, marketing case studies are an informational tool, that doesn’t mean they have to read dryly, like a report. Reading a case study should be like reading a story—only the beginning, middle, and end are all replicable business takeaways.
As I previously mentioned, many big brands are sure to have conducted their own case studies on high profile campaigns. However, case studies also exist across different industries, and can feature even the smallest mom and pop marketing shops!
You can find samples for industry-specific case studies pretty easily. We went ahead and gathered a few for you:
- Digital marketing case study examples
- Case study on retail marketing
- Case study on branding in marketing
- Industrial marketing case study
- Insurance digital marketing case study
- Account based marketing case study
There’s no shortage of case studies out there. If you’re searching for inspiration however, it’s important to be discerning in your searches. Remember, not all case studies are about successes. Many detail big swings that missed the mark.
When you’re consuming case studies be sure you’re reading both kinds equally. You’ll find that you can learn just as much from the mistakes of others!
Why Write a Marketing Case Study?
Before we dive into the instructions, let’s take a second to explore why a business would invest the time and effort into writing a case study. After all, why share your big marketing secrets with the world, what do you get out of the deal?
Simply put, you get the chance to share your story. Case studies, after all are just stories showcasing your products and methods. They make for pretty spectacular advertising because, to a reader, it doesn’t feel like they’re being marketed to.
92% of customers prefer that media messages sound like a story. By using case studies your appealing to the logical, casual consumer who wants to know the “who, what, where, when, and why” that drives them to buy without any of the extra fuss. Case studies are the perfect medium to package it all.
Components of a Marketing Case Study
Every good case study maintains one singular focus: how Company “A” accomplished “B” by using “XZY”. This means most marketing case studies tend to take on an easily understandable problem-solution structure.
For the remainder of this section, let’s think of a marketing case study as a recipe. We’ll go over the ingredients, then the directions that detail how you need to put it all together to make it digestible (or better)…!
Recipe For a Successful Case Study:
- 1 title that overviews the entire study in one quick statement
- 1 subject– preferably a homemade one with a strong or descriptive history you can intro with… but store-bought will do).
- 1 goal for your subject
- Visual aids to garnish
- 1-3 strategies with extra to test
- 1 or more tactics– how many you add depends on what it took to get your strategies to work. Think of it like extra pinches of seasoning!
- 1 conclusion that provides specific call to actions or takeaways ****
How to Write a Marketing Case Study
Using the ingredients above, assemble them in this order to create a basic marketing case study:
- Write a title: Don’t worry about spoiling the ending. With case studies you want your title to let readers know right away how a campaign ended. A proper title usually includes the name of the company or brand being examined, if their campaign went well or poorly for them, a solid metric that demonstrates exactly how well or how poorly they performed. For example: “SimpleTexting Cut Down Product Onboarding Process by 30% Through Video Instruction.“
- Introduce the subject: Every marketing case study should open with a brief historical overview of the company. What have they struggled with in the past that led to them developing this campaign? Who is their target audience, what do they sell? Even if your subject is obscure, you want to build a sense of relatability to your readers: so be sure to structure from general to specific. After all, you want readers outside just your industry to take away value.
- Identify your subject’s problems: Avoid leaving your readers feeling underwhelmed by presenting your subject’s problems early on in your case study. What are they trying to build, fix, or change? These problems are what will ultimately establish the subject’s goal, a one or two sentence overview of the outcomes they’d like to see.
- Spell out your strategies and tactics: The real meat to your case study occurs here. This portion of your study is where you describe what actions you specifically took to try and reach your goals. What did you expect to happen when you tried “x, y, and z”? Your case study can write this all out in paragraph form if you want it to read with some fluidity, or you can simply bullet out your strategies below each goal. The level of detail you go into is completely up to you, just be sure you provide enough context so someone looking to solve the same issue could replicate your process. Examples of good strategies for a common marketing pain point like building a social media following include: connecting with influencers, developing original creative content, and developing paid advertising parameters.
- Share your results with visuals: At this point, you’ll want to follow up with the preview you set in your title and share with readers how things went. If you saw success, how much and where? If you didn’t were you able to pinpoint where things went wrong? Spare no detail as you write out what worked and what didn’t, and be sure to provide replicable detail (it may be what inspires your reader to become a customer!) Some common metrics commonly found in case studies include: web analytics and traffic, backlinks generated, keyword rankings, shares or other social interactions. Graphics like charts, bolded quotes, and graphs are good opportunities to visual demonstrate your data.
- Wrap it up with a conclusion: Know the difference between reemphasizing and repeating. When writing a conclusion you shouldn’t sound like an echo, repeating exactly what you said in your introduction. Instead, you want to draw emphasis back to your key points and call your readers to action. Let them know what they can do right now to get connected and see this same success (or avoid its failure). If you’re writing a case study for marketing purposes, this is where you sell yourself and your product.
Marketing Case Study Examples
You’ve certainly heard enough from us to this point. Now it’s time to see what all of these tips and tricks look like in action. A plethora of marketing case study examples are out there, each one with a different objective: purely educational, sales driven, industry leadership, and more.
To give you a well-rounded picture, we’ll share some of our favorite marketing case studies with you so you can see it all in action for yourself.
The popular football tournament the “Fiesta Bowl” takes place each year in December. In a time saturated by college bowl games, they struggled to find ways to engage and interest the public on social media around their game specifically. Why we like this case study: It’s a classic example of how to present a problem/solution structured study. No muss, no fuss.
The Surf Life Saving Foundation rolled out an innovative new framework for their brand known as the surf lottery. Despite the size of the initiative they were able to break down their process on a share of voice campaign with a great deal of clarity. Why we like this case study: it provides actionable and replicable examples of how their objectives were received.
Organizational application Asana also finds itself in a competition heavy environment. They are one of many SaaS productivity programs available. They needed to give their brand more of a voice to edge out against competitors offering near identical products. Why we like this case study: It’s storytelling at it’s finest and perfectly demonstrates the subtle advertising concept.
This is a great example of a marketing agency showcasing their history of work with a high profile client (the Boston Red Sox). It explores their entire body of work on a dynamic landing page. Why we like this case study: it demonstrates what a multi-media approach to a digital case study should strive to be.
As you can see, putting your own spin on a case study is what gives it that extra element of memorability. If you’re interested in learning more, check out some of our marketing case studies to see a different perspective!
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