5 Steps to Craft a Case Study’s Content Strategy

5 Steps to Craft a Case Study's Content Strategy“Case studies are effective marketing tools for small businesses.” You’ve heard this time and time again, right? Case studies illustrate a satisfied customer, while highlighting your products and/or services in a positive real-world example. This is all great marketing material, but how effective can a case study really be if none of your current or prospective customers read it, the media didn’t cover it and your site traffic remained stagnant?

A case study is only as effective as the metrics you use to measure its success. So how can a small business owner write, distribute and measure a truly effective case study? In this three-part blog series, “3 Phases to Turn a Case Study into an Effective Marketing Tool,” you will discover the necessary steps to create a valuable marketing tool that exceeds your objectives.

First things first: A strong case study begins with a satisfied customer depicting a detailed problem and solution, and ends with quantifiable results. But before you sit down to hammer out the problem-solution article, it’s important to craft a content strategy to understand your audience and objectives. These five steps will better position your case study to achieve your measurements of success.

5 Steps for Crafting a Case Study’s Content Strategy

1. Define Target Audience:

Determine the niche, segment or demographic group your company wants to reach. It is crucial to identify your target buyer persona in order to include content that appeals to them.

2. Conduct Discovery Work:

Once you’ve defined your target audience, it’s important to fully understand their challenges. Ask yourself, What other issues could be causing their problem? Could the problem shift? Then, list all the options your audience could use to solve the problem. Can your competitor solve it as well? If so, how does your product or service get your customer to the solution faster and more easily?

3. Choose Relevant Subject Matter:

The topic is the foundation of your case study. One way to attract readership from your target audience is to choose issues related to timely industry news or events. Also, use your discovery research from Step 2 to better focus the problem and solution that will appeal to them.

4. Identify Objectives:

Establish your goals, which may include building brand awareness, gaining media coverage, increasing website traffic and driving leads. From here, you can determine your measurements of success through quantifiable results. (Stay Tuned for “Step 3: How to Measure an Effective Case Study.”)

5. Research Priority Keywords:

Once you define the topic, research and select priority keywords to use throughout your case study for search optimization. Use tools such as Google’s Keyword Tool to identify what keywords your audience searches when seeking help with their problem. When it comes to distribution, optimizing your case study will help drive search traffic.

Tell me about your experiences in crafting a content strategy. Feel free to offer comments about how you positioned your case study for success.


Lyndsey Frey Lyndsey Frey is a freelance writer and editor who has written and edited articles for Inside Business, Smart Business, West Shore's Live Well, Cleveland and Internet Retailer magazines, as well as the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University. In addition, she ghost-wrote a business financial-planning book, "Reducing Fiduciary Liability." She spent the last two years as a PR consultant, where she advised clients on content marketing, social-media marketing, Website development, search-engine optimization and public relations.

11 Reactions
  1. Martin Lindeskog

    Lyndsey Frey: How would you compare and contrast this kind of case study with the case studies you study at business schools?

    I am interested to learn more about “custom publishing” as you write in your Twitter bio.

  2. Jeff 'SKI' Kinsey

    Hey Lyndsey, nice post. I have seen #4 get overlooked all too often.

  3. Martin: The structure of the case study I’m referring to is not very different from the standard case study format. You start off with a problem, highlight the solution and then quantify the results. However, the case study needs to be written with your target audience in mind, and should include a solution your company’s product/service provided. I think that’s where the difference comes into play. It’s positioning the case study to reflect your company, rather than a third party. Does this answer your question?

    Also, to answer your question regarding custom publishing, I work with companies/publications to write specific articles to meet their needs, whether it’s a brochure, case study, customer testimonial, etc. Connect with me on LinkedIn. I’d love to tell you more about my experiences and send you sample clips.

  4. Jeff: Thank you for your comment. I agree, and No. 4 is one of the most important steps because you can’t measure success if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve!

  5. Good post, I would recommend to use two keyword research tools to double check your keywords as they are often inaccurate.

  6. In reading case studies, not only do I like reading a relevant case, but I like a good story. I want to relate to the company and feel like they share my pain. Don’t make a dry, impersonal case study. Make something compelling.

  7. Maria Reyes-McDavis

    Great post and such an important concept, do the strategy before you publish to be more effective. Soooo important.