How to Write a Business Case Study that Engages Customers

Two women with notebooks fanned out on a table, facing each other.
There’s no better spokesperson for your business than a satisfied customer.

A business case study brings your brand’s value proposition to life through your customers’ positive experiences with your products and services. Most successful organizations have these success stories buried in their data and sales files. The smart ones unearth those gems and repackage them as engaging business case studies. 

Why do you need a business case study?

A business case study goes beyond spec sheets, brochures, and other nuts ‘n’ bolts sales collateral to put the spotlight on your customer—letting them say how your products and services have helped them grow and succeed. A well-written business case study is a powerful marketing tool that helps prospective customers see themselves in your happy customer’s story … and envision their own success working with you. It makes them think, “Gadzooks! Look how those products and services benefited that company. We should look into partnering with Business XYZ ourselves!” Ready to get started?  

Elements of a business case study

The basic recipe for a business case study contains these essential ingredients:

  • A customer who is willing to be interviewed and share the successes they’ve had working with your company and using your products or services
  • Statistics, metrics, or other figures demonstrating the impact on their business (e.g., year-over-year (YOY) growth, increase in sales and/or revenue, expansion of customer base, growth in number of employees, etc.)
  • A compelling narrative that weaves together details about your products and services, your value proposition, along with the customer’s own story 
  • Pull quotes where customers describe specific benefits and outcomes in their own words 
  • Call-to-action (CTA) inviting prospective users to learn more about your products and services

What you need to prepare in advance

Identify your best customers: Account executives typically have the closest contact with individual customers. They tend to be the best sources to recommend company leaders to feature in your business case study success stories. Helpful hint: Customers who enjoy speaking enthusiastically about their experiences make the best case study subjects. Ask your referring sales reps to find customers who are passionate about their work and will provide positive testimonials for your products or services. 

Fill out permission and release forms: Consult your legal department on releases and other company paperwork required to get the customer’s consent to use their story in your marketing materials. Helpful hint: It’s important to get these permission forms filled out and signed in advance — before you start working on your business case study. No one wants to go down the aisle with a valued customer and spend their time (and yours) creating a case study, only to learn the legal department nixed the idea. 

Set up a brief phone or virtual interview: Depending on how much background material you have from sales on your case study subject, about 45 minutes should be enough to gather information for a brief case study. Use your judgment: a shorter case study (400 to 500 words) might only require 30 minutes, whereas a longer one (800 to 1,200 words) might need 45 minutes or more. Helpful hint: Interviews that drag on beyond 60 minutes tend to tire out the customer. Respect their time and ask to gather additional information, if needed, via email.  

Prepare and share interview questions in advance: Send the customer your question list in advance so they can prepare for the interview. Focus your questions on the elements you’ll need to write your business case study:

  • Customer background info
  • Business challenges they faced
  • When and why they partnered with your business
  • Product adoption, integration, and usage experiences
  • Specific examples of successful use of products or services
  • Metrics to show the impact of those successes
  • How they plan to use your products or services in the future

Conclude your interview with an open-ended question, such as, “Anything else you’d care to share about your business or working with us?” Often this will prompt insights or outcomes you might not have thought to ask about. Helpful hint: With the customer’s permission (it’s the law), record the interview and transcribe the audio for your internal, note-taking purposes (not for publication). This creates a record of your conversation and helps ensure you get all the info and quotes correct.    

With your customer background information and interview transcript in hand, you’re ready to write your business case study! 

Business case study format

Create a template for your business case study format; this provides a roadmap to help you to organize your information and envision the final product. 

What you should include in a case study

Business case study sections: A standard business case study format includes these four basic elements: 

  1. About (customer’s business background; i.e., when they were founded, products and services they offer, geographic area served, and target audience)
  2. Challenges (problems your customer encountered before working with you)
  3. Approach (how your products or services solved the customer’s problems)
  4. Results (impact of using your products and services on the customer’s business)

Some case studies use “Intro – Challenges – Approach – Results” as section subheads; others use more creative, editorial subheads to share the same information. The basic idea is to show how your featured case study customer got from point A to point B by using your products or services. 

Pepper it with good quotes: The most engaging business case studies include a few customer quotes. These bring the customer’s story to life by letting them describe their challenges and successes in their own words. Choose customer quotes that speak to their experiences and insights, and don’t simply state facts that can be conveyed in your narrative. A good quote says it better than you can write it!

Use pull quotes and metrics: Break up your business case study narrative with compelling pull quotes and statistics. These visuals help your case study be more scannable to the eye, presenting the most important results and takeaways at a glance.

Don’t forget your call to action!: A great business case study makes for interesting reading. But the point is to engage prospective customers and move them to the next step in your sales funnel. Include a CTA at the end, inviting them to contact you for more information.

Getting assistance with writing a case study 

Need help crafting your own business case studies? Wordsmithie creates compelling customer case studies for clients from a variety of industries — including technology, healthcare, travel, retail, and other sectors. We love nothing more than to help our clients tell their success stories through the words of their best customers! We have several business case study formats to fit most every type of business. We know you — and your customers! — have a lot to say. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss how we can help you create your business case studies.

ABOUT Heidi LaFleche

Heidi launched her writing career as a newspaper and magazine journalist—most notably as a Boston correspondent for People magazine. She transitioned into marketing communications for business, helping clients find the right words to engage their audiences. Heidi is a Senior Editor for Wordsmithie, and also runs her own freelance writing business on the side. She writes within a range of industries including technology, healthcare, financial services, legal services, education and nonprofits. Her slogan: “Every business has a story. Let’s tell yours together.”