«Return to Blog List 5 Trends in Customer Case Studies – An Interview with Projectline


View Larger

What’s new with customer stories and where are we headed?

That’s the question I recently asked Erica Hansen, director of customer engagement at Projectline. The fast-growing marketing services firm has built a solid reputation by assisting companies like Microsoft with customer references and evidence.

I’ve followed the firm and gotten to know a few folks via social media the past few years. With five offices in the U.S. and London, they see a lot, and I wanted to hear their view on what’s happening with customer stories.

Hansen shared five trends she’s seeing in customer storytelling:

  1. Audiences want “snackable” content
    Increasingly, companies and their customers want customer evidence (stories) in a variety of formats. Where once it was just the typical written story or video, now companies and their audiences also want shorter, summarized versions for an at-a-glance understanding of the solution and results.
  2. But longer stories are still valuable too
    I asked about story length in light of Eccolo Media’s survey indiciating IT buyers want longer stories. Hansen answered that buyers want both – the short overview AND the ability to drill down deeper into a longer story when desired.

    “People working more in the IT department of an organization want to know how it’s working, the ins and outs. That type of audience prefers the longer format. Then the business decision-makers want to know the benefits they’ll get out of it,” Hansen said.
  3. Stories are getting more visual
    How do you quickly convey business results with impact? Infographics are a hot new way to get your point across quickly.

    “Even the customers that participate in the case studies use the infographics as well,” Hansen said.
    See sample graphic above that Projectline created for Microsoft.
  4. Video – Keep it short and to the point!
    “In the past we found that clients asked for five to seven-minute videos but we find that viewership drops off dramatically after 30 seconds,” Hansen said.

    In response, Projectline creates short animated videos that take viewers through the need, solution and results. Hansen describes them as similar to “infographics in video form.”

  5. Links within case studies
    Projectline encourages clients to include helpful links in written customer case studies, helping readers click to more information about the solutions and companies featured. Then, the firm can track those links to know whether a case study encouraged a customer to research further.

The biggest challenge today?

Hansen notes that the channels where buyers get information are continuously changing and expanding, and they vary from company to company and industry to industry. A company may want to share customer evidence on social media sites, but their customers may not be there, or might be on one platform and not another.

As always, it’s about knowing where customers are and meeting them there.

How about you? What trends are you seeing the market?

3 Responses to 5 Trends in Customer Case Studies – An Interview with Projectline

  1. Hi Casey
    i agree with a lot, what projectline says, but the interactive video is just regular advertising.
    The clients voice can’t even be heard.
    This is not a credible customer story.

  2. Janice King says:

    Thanks for sharing the examples. I’m especially glad to see the infographic, because whether stand-alone or within a case study, I think graphics are powerful but underused elements.

    Another idea: One of my clients includes a “lessons learned” section as a standard in their long-form case studies, which are targeted to technical decision makers. This section not only provides the kind of substantial information these readers seek, it also increases the company’s credibility through its willingness to discuss the difficulties and surprises encountered in the implementaion.

    Janice King
    Freelance Technical Copywriter and Author, Copywriting That Sells High Tech

  3. I think the Infographic is very good.Its better than simply reading a case study which sometimes are already boring especially if it was long…But I have to say that adding more pictures to the infographic like the picture of that person who said that particular quote or information is better than than just putting the name of the person on it..