Data is at the heart of every case study, because you’re telling a before-and-after story.
So when you talk to your client, you need to look at two different points in time:
Not only that, but the results section of the case study must reinforce the client’s goal stated in the beginning, such as increasing revenue or reducing turnover. If the data doesn’t reinforce that goal, then you haven’t shown that you’ve solved the problem that your client came to you for.
Sometimes it’s raw numbers. Other times it’s a percentage, especially in cases where clients – for good reason — don’t want to reveal hard data.
For case studies I’ve written, examples of hard data include the following:
When talking to the client, they might not cough up the data. Or they give you vague information.
That’s when we need to dig deeper and ask questions that begin with “how.” How many? How much? How long?
To show results, you’ll want to compare the latest data with data compiled prior to implementing your solution. So a key question to ask when you have the final data is this: Compared to what?
Take the example of a hotel chain that implements new software to streamline the check-in process at the registration desk.
Here are some questions you might ask to extract some solid numbers:
As you can see, “how” is part of almost every question.
For some case studies I’ve written, the result can be as simple as this: The client had an old website. Now they have a new one, it looks spiffy, and it works on mobile devices. The client is happy with your work.
If you can wrangle numbers from a customer like that, great. But maybe they didn’t have Google Analytics (hard to believe, but situations like this still exist). That doesn’t mean you can’t make a case study out of it.
Failure to track progress isn’t the only reason a customer can’t share real numbers. Maybe they don’t want to or can’t, for legal or proprietary reasons. You may still be able to make the case study work.
Let’s look at other examples of results that may not have hard data.
Results are critical to a good case study. Without some data or indication that what you did for a client made a big difference, you won’t have a real case study.
Remember that case studies have three main parts: Problem, Solution, Results. Your product or service helped move the needle for a client. One of the best ways to show that is to compare what life was like for the client before (problem) and after (results) you arrived.
Without that piece of information — the results — your case study isn’t a case study at all. It’s just a puff piece.
I’d love to hear about your project. Feel free to contact me.