It’s tough to find credible information on the internet.
From false news reports to fake reviews, misinformation is rife. Unfortunately, this causes a lack of trust that can impact your work and audience as a creator.
If you want to build credibility in your expertise with your intended audience, you’ll need more than the average blog post, ebook, or other types of content. You’ll need facts and figures. That’s where testimonials and case studies come in. These two content formats elevate your brand’s reputation and position you as a trusted source of information for your audience.
In this article, we’ll examine what case studies and testimonials are, how they can help your business, and how you can use them effectively. But first, let’s consider why trust and authority are crucial in today’s online world.
The value of building trust online
With millions of blogs and more bloggers than ever, there is an avalanche of online content available. It also doesn’t help that search engine results seem to have become identical copies of each other—to the extent that 40% of Gen Z internet users trust TikTok and Instagram more than search engine results.
As a creator, it is crucial to build trust online. Your audience needs to know they feel confident in your content. You can reap the following benefits when you have a credible platform.
- Expert positioning: Audience trust in your brand positions you as an expert in your industry. This makes you top of mind for readers or potential customers who need your expertise. Being known as an expert also makes it easier to land profitable brand collaborations.
- Increased sales: When there’s trust, wallets open. 44% of consumers are willing to spend $500 or more each year with trusted brands, with 29% saying they will spend more than $1000/year, according to research by Adobe. If customers know that everything you produce is high quality, they’ll be willing to invest in your content, whether it’s an ebook or paid newsletter.
- More referrals: If you’ve ever bought a product because a family member or friend raved about it, you know the power of word-of-mouth referrals. Customers who use, love, and trust your content can easily become brand advocates and bring you more customers without effort.
- Improved services: Customer trust makes it easier to provide better services because trust makes people more open to sharing information. Whether you’re looking to collect subscriber preferences or gather information for more personalized services, people have to trust you before they will share.
Case studies vs testimonials: what’s the difference?
Case studies and testimonials can help you improve your credibility, but both content formats aren’t the same.
In marketing, case studies are investigative reports designed to showcase the impact of a product or service on a client or their business. They are usually prepared by the creator. Here’s an example of a ConvertKit case study published on our blog.
Testimonials are reviews or reports from clients about their experience with a service or the efficacy of a product. Here’s an example of a testimonial from a ConvertKit user on ConvertKit’s homepage.
Besides their sources, case studies and testimonials also differ in format and distribution methods.
Case studies are more in-depth analyses compared to testimonials, which can only be a paragraph or two long.
Case studies can be shared on websites and as distributable assets. Testimonials can only be used on the brand’s website or on review sites, not as distributable assets.
If you’re not sure whether a case study or testimonial would be more useful for your brand, think about what you’d like to achieve with either.
For those who want to highlight in their own words how impactful their product or service has been for a specific client, case studies would be more effective. This format provides room to break down more complex projects and highlight how your product or service helped in detail.
However, testimonials would be a better option if you’re looking for shorter expressions from your customers about your product or service and how it’s benefited them.
How testimonials and case studies can help your business
Writing case studies and requesting testimonials takes effort and resources, but it’s worth it as you can leverage the assets to scale your biz. Here are three ways testimonials and case studies can help.
1. Build trust and credibility
You can never have too much trust and credibility, and there’s no better way to show your value than in your results for other customers. People value and actively seek out social proof, particularly from third-party sources. For example, 77% of consumers say they “always” or “regularly” read online reviews for local businesses.
Proof of the results you’ve produced for other clients in case studies increases the audience's trust in your content and products. This boosts your brand reputation, positioning your brand as capable, expert, and trustworthy.
Positive reviews and testimonials can have a similar effect. Expert positioning can easily become a trust signal to potential customers in need of your product or service.
2. Improve business reach
Unlike the average blog post, testimonials and case studies can travel farther online.
Because case studies are so detailed, they’re often useful to other brands within the industry. They may cite your case studies as examples or use some of your research in their content, which can lead new users to your content.
Testimonials can also travel far. In addition to hosting them on your website, you can display testimonials on your social media pages, such as LinkedIn or your brand’s media kit. Wherever they end up, case studies and testimonials will spread the word about your brand’s competence and efficiency.
3. Grow your audience
Case studies are particularly effective as lead magnets. Say you’re a food blogger who’s grown their blog from zero to 100,000 monthly visitors and created an ebook detailing the growth and tactics used. Such a lead magnet would attract potential students for your forthcoming blogging course.
To use a case study as a lead magnet, you’ll need to create it as a PDF and use it as a sign up incentive in ConvertKit. Case studies like this can educate your audience and open the door for a long-term connection on your mailing list.
Tips for using testimonials to build trust
Testimonials can be tricky because they must be honest expressions from your audience. If you’re ready to tap into the power of testimonials, follow these three tips to get convincing testimonials that will help you build authority.
- Try video testimonials: Testimonials from “real” humans are more meaningful, and videos make it clear that your past clients are real people who’ve benefited from your products. It’s also high effort to create a video and put your face front and center, so past clients being willing to do this for you tells potential customers that your service was that helpful.
- Request specific information from clients: If you tell a client to write a testimonial with no further guidance, you might not get the best results. Instead, consider providing guiding questions, such as:
- How did our product/service make your life easier?
- Which part of our experience working together made the biggest positive impression?
- What specific changes did our product/service create for you (include figures)?
These will ensure that the client’s testimonials are impactful, and others in your audience will recognize how you can help with their pain points too.
- Include a photo, name, and role of testifying client: If asking clients to make a video is too much of a lift, ask their permission to include their photo, name, and current role with their testimonial. This means interested potential customers can verify their identity and reach out to them for more detailed information about your service if they’re in the same network.
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What to know about crafting compelling case studies
Case studies can be even more resource-demanding and require a level of collaboration between you and the client. Here are some important tips to keep in mind as you craft your first case study.
1. Establish a long-term relationship with the customer
An engaging case study is like any great story: it needs a beginning, a middle, and an impactful end. So to build one, you need to have a story or relationship with the customer.
One way to establish such a connection is to get them on your mailing list when they purchase your product. You can then check back in after a stipulated period to see what their experience has been so far. With such a relationship in place, it’s easier to pop in and ask past and current customers if they’d be willing to collaborate on a case study with you.
2. Have proven results to share
Not every customer’s story with your product is case study material. However, if a customer reports positive, measurable changes unmistakably resulting from using your product or service, these results are worth sharing.
To be sure the results are proven, confirm from the client that they haven’t been using any other new products in that timeframe and that the changes they’ve seen can be proven with hard data, not just anecdotes.
3. Get the details
Once you’re sure these are results worth highlighting, it’s time to interview the customer. You can do this in person, over the phone, or via video conferencing.
To ensure you don’t skip any relevant details, consider using a questionnaire requesting information about specific benefits and measurable growth resulting from using your product.
You’ll also need to document your processes for helping the client accomplish their goals, so if you have team members who collaborated with you, ask them to chime in to get the full picture.
4. Ask permission to share company information
Whether you’re doing this first or last, it’s an essential step. Case studies unavoidably involve sharing private company information such as how much income was generated or how many new subscribers an email list gained. Be sure to get a signed contract permitting you to use this information in your case study.
How ConvertKit users are benefiting from using case studies
ConvertKit users have found case studies rewarding, especially for business to business (B2B) audiences. We asked them to share their experiences and have highlighted some key takeaways to keep in mind.
Larissa Murillo, senior marketing manager at Marketgoo uses case studies as an effective touchpoint during the long B2B nurturing phase. She’s found them useful to move prospects down the funnel as they help the potential clients evaluate whether they can see themselves being successful with Marketgoo’s solutions.
Murillo believes that there’s an art to writing a great case study. She says, “Writing case studies is an exercise in effective storytelling. It should read like a story, with a beginning (giving context), middle (building tension) and end (successfully solving the customer’s pain points).”
If you’re unsure how to identify the right customer for a case study, try Murillo’s tip. She says, “For larger enterprise partners, we rely on account managers to identify good potential case studies as well as the right person to interview, and speak with the client inviting them to participate and confirming what level of disclosure they’re comfortable with.”
Marketgoo hosts their case studies on their website, where they’ve made some of their top options available to download as PDFs.
Logan Mallory, VP of Marketing at Motivosity, has also benefited from using case studies. He reports, “Using case studies increased our conversion rates by more than 15%. We surveyed companies who have been using our products both before they started and after a set period of time. We wanted to know what the challenge was and why they chose to use our software, what impact it had, and get measurable data to share and back up those results. This is the information we used to create the case studies.”
Mallory also hosts Motivosity’s case studies on their websites. But he says they also “send out new, particularly exciting studies in their email marketing. They also use them as a tool to help close deals by sharing a case study with prospects at a certain point in the sales pipeline.
Build your brand’s credibility with case studies and testimonials
Case studies can be intimidating for first-timers, but with an organized process, it’s not as difficult as it seems. At ConvertKit, we understand the value of showcasing your experience and skills with case studies. They can help you build a strong reputation and improve your brand’s credibility.
You can use case studies on your website, but especially as lead magnets for your email marketing. If you don’t use email marketing yet, it’s time to start. Sign up for a free ConvertKit account.