When is the best time to use a customer case study?
Conventional wisdom says that they are best kept in the mid to later stages of the buying cycle, once the prospect is pulled in and ready to evaluate a solution further.
Like many people, Susan Fantle agreed—until she helped a client create a successful lead generation piece that featured case studies. Fantle of The Copy Works is a seasoned B2B writer with particular expertise in direct mail and lead generation.
“My original assumption was that case studies were valuable only after prospects had moved past the interest stage of the buying cycle to the evaluation stage and were looking at specific companies—the time when determining the credibility of that company was important,” she said. “After the campaign I learned, very dramatically, that case studies are an excellent lead generation tool if compiled and presented properly.”
How did Fantle and her client create and execute this successful campaign?
Here’s their success story on using case studies for lead generation.
ID the Audience
Fantle’s client, a technology company, set out to generate qualified leads of prospective customers at large global enterprises to drive sales of its travel and expenses (T&E) software for financial executives.
Because both business and technology people could be involved in such a software decision, any communications had to address both audiences.
The company created a 15-page booklet/report that featured five complete case studies, each about 800-1000 words long. Each case highlighted a different company, and a different TYPE of decision-maker, including a procurement officer, program director, director of accounts payable, VP for accounting operations, and manager of application services.
With those titles, the company covered the range of potential readers—helping the audience see themselves mirrored in the stories.
Pitch the Offer
An enticing title promised real value for the reader, “How Five Global Companies Turned a T&E Challenge into a Financial Win.”
To pitch the informational offer, Fantle crafted direct mail letters, emails and the landing page. All communications encouraged recipients to register for the complimentary report quickly by offering a copy of another high-value report to the first 25 downloaders.
Simplifying registration, the direct mail piece included a priority code that, when entered, auto-filled the prospect’s information on the site—saving the prospects time. Guests only had to enter their email addresses and names.
Watch the Leads Roll in
The campaign netted an impressive number of leads:
- Click-through rates for the in-house list – 7.16%
- Click-through rates for an external rented list – 7.26%
- An average of 40% conversion to qualified leads across both lists
“This may not sound like much, but in the B2B world—generating qualified leads from large, global companies for high-end products—it is excellent,” Fantle said.
In this early stage of the buying cycle, the booklet served to educate readers about the benefits of the software—providing a “like me” element for readers and showing them how others solved specific problems.
“A collection of case studies says, ‘here are folks who are suffering the same challenges you face, and here’s how they met these challenges.’ So positioned correctly, it’s a strong lead generation tool.”
Find more tips on B2B marketing on Fantle’s blog, B2B Marketing Smarts.