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  • Writer's pictureGrant Ongstad

How to Write a SaaS Case Study in 2023 [+ Examples and Worksheet]

Updated: Feb 15, 2023


If done right, a case study (also known as customer stories) can be a high-performing, high-converting content powerhouse


That’s why 47% of SaaS marketers call them the most effective content to generate sales.


(The other 53% must not be doing them right.)


The best part?


They’re simple to create. But most marketers don’t know where to start.


In this post, I’m going to tell you how to write an effective SaaS case study along with plenty of examples. Stick around for the case study worksheet thats included at the end.


What is a case study?


A case study, also referred to a customer story, is simply a piece of content that demonstrates how you helped a customer solve a problem.


That’s it.


It’s not a deep analysis, academic magnum opus, or an over-designed PDF. At the end of the day, it’s a story about your customer and their problem.


Why are case studies effective?


Case studies are so effective because they demonstrate your product or service's ability to solve a real problem - told through the eyes of your customer. Hopefully, the reader sees themselves in the subject of the case study with the same pain points, the same challenges, and the same hopes.


Most importantly, The case study paints a picture of what life looks like without the problem.


What is unique about a SaaS case study?


A SaaS case study isn’t much different from a regular marketing or business case study. What changes is the audience. Although your case study should address a business goal, If you’re subject is more technical in nature, your content should speak to those who know it best.


Technical


Audience: implementers, CIO, and Directors - looking to solve a backend technical problem or limitation.



SaaS Case Study for Technical

Business


Audience: CEO, COO, Sales, or Marketing leadership- Looking to generate sales, cut cost, streamline processes




SaaS Case Study for Business


Setting the groundwork for the Case Study


There are a few things you'll want to get right before creating a case study.


The right customer


If you provide value, It should be easy to find a customer willing to participate in a case study. There are some who think subjects of a case study should be given an incentive to participate - a true advocate shouldn’t need much convincing.

The right perspective


A case study is written with empathy. The reader needs to be able to relate to the hero of the story.


An objective and concise voice is key. Use plenty of metrics and quotes from stakeholders and those close to the work. It shouldn’t read like Marketing Copy. If done right, it won’t need to.


Remember, a case study should be problem-focused, not about showcasing the solution or competencies of the business.


Now, let’s break down the components of the case study.


Components of a SaaS case study


A case study is ultimately a story. It’s a story about transformation. No different than any other story, it follows a story arc - a hero who encounters a problem, goes on a journey and wins.


That’s why it’s not uncommon to see SaaS companies refer to case studies as 'customer stories.'


The Hero


Who is the hero of the story? HINT: It’s not you and it’s not your product. It’s the customer. The hero wants peace, but something is disrupting their way of life. Identify who the hero of the story is. What their motivations are and what has brought them to this point.




SaaS Case Study


The Problem


What problem is preventing the hero from thriving or having peace? The hero should be compelled to act because of a problem that threatens their way of life. The problem can be specific, but should tie back to a core business objective.


Problem: On-boarding training process takes an average of two weeks.


Business objective: reduce cost and manual labor associated with hands-on training. Shorten employees time to value.


Example of SaaS Case Study problem statement

The Journey


What actions did they take to solve the problem? What did they learn along the way? Many case studies neglect to mention journey. The purpose of the journey is to demonstrate a partnership between the customer and your company. So take this opportunity to do so!


The Guide


Don’t forget the other player in this story. You!


How did your guidance or product help them? It should be more than “they used this product”, it should demonstrate a collaboration between the guide and the hero. Many case studies talk about the product as a solution, but forget to tie in the organizations role.


Journey and Guide Example: McKesson and Salesforce




The Resolution


What happens at the end? The resolution reveals what life is like after the problem is solved.


The resolution should be backed by data. What were the areas improved and by how much. How does life look different? How does it feel different? It’s often effective to put the results in a visible place. It should be the first thing the reader sees.


The most effective metrics are specific. They shouldn’t be subjective or vague. '50% Increase in ROI' is not as good as '$150,000 more renewal revenue YoY.' Here's a great example from Monday.com. Notice how exact the measurements are.


Resolution Example: Monday.com and Farfetch


Example of SaaS Case Study Metrics


Crafting an effective Case Study headline


The most effective headline should tell me three things.

  • Who is the customer?

  • What is the benefit?

  • What is the solution?


How [Customer] [Benefit] by [Solution]


Headline Example: Monday.com


Example of SaaS Case Study Title Headline

Social Proof, Social Proof, Social Proof


The case study is a perfect opportunity to gather social proof in the form of testimonials and direct stakeholder quotes. The more the merrier.





Example of SaaS Case Study Quote Social Proof

Example of SaaS Case Study Quote Social Proof

Visual Appeal


Many SaaS companies stress the visual appeal of their case study/customer story too much. The truth is, you don't have to.


Take this Amazon AWS example, it simply reads like a blog post.


AmazonAWS Case Study Example

However, if you wan't to add a little spice to your case study, here are some general design guidelines to follow.


  1. Keep the benefit above the fold and easy to see. These include metrics and customer quotes.

  2. Highlight key sections like the problem, and any takeaways.

  3. Keep it short. An effective SaaS Case Study shouldn't be more than 1,500 words.


Should you Gate your Case Study?


In general, I wouldn’t recommend gating case studies. We tend to overestimate the desirability of our content. The goal of a case study is to evangelize your message. If a customer really finds it impactful, they will reach out.


SaaS Case Study Worksheet


Here is a worksheet that can help when writing a case study. Try completing this worksheet before you begin writing. This will help you make sure you're touching all the key aspects.

​Who is the Hero (Customer)?

What is the Problem?

How did you help the customer succeed?

What is the biggest benefit your customer realized?

​What key metric are you using to measure the benefit?

Provide 3 Direct Quotes from your Customer

- Quote 1

- Quote 2

- Quote 3

What is your Headline?

How [Customer] [Benefit] by [Solution]


Conclusion

Case studies seem intimidating. They don't have to be. They are just stories - and everyone loves a good story. By following the guidelines outlined in this piece, you'll be able to craft an effective case study that speaks to your readers, drives engagement, and converts prospects.


If you need help writing a case study, you can always turn to me.




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