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5 Trends in Customer Case Studies – An Interview with Projectline

 

What's new with customer stories and where are we headed?

That's the question I recently asked Erica Hansen, director of customer engagement at Projecline. The fast-growing marketing services firm has built a solid reputation by assisting companies like Microsoft with customer references and evidence.

I've followed the firm and gotten to know a few folks via social media the past few years. With five offices in the U.S. and London, they see a lot, and I wanted to hear their view on what's happening with customer stories.

 

Hansen shared five trends she's seeing in customer storytelling:

1. Audiences want "snackable" content

Increasingly, companies and their customers want customer evidence (stories) in a variety of formats. Where once it was just the typical written story or video, now companies and their audiences also want shorter, summarized versions for an at-a-glance understanding of the solution and results.

 

2. But longer stories are still valuable too

I asked about story length in light of Eccolo Media's survey indciating IT buyers want longer stories. Hansen answered that buyers want both - the short overview AND the ability to drill down deeper into a longer story when desired.

"People working more in the IT department of an organization want to know how it's working, the ins and outs. That type of audience prefers the longer format. Then the business decision-makers want to know the benefits they'll get out of it," Hansen said.

 

3. Stories are getting more visual

How do you quickly convey business results with impact? Infographics are a hot new way to get your point across quickly. 

"Even the customers that participate in the case studies use the infographics as well," Hansen said.

Here's a sample graphic that Projectline created for Microsoft:

 

4. Video - Keep it short and to the point!

"In the past we found that clients asked for five to seven-minute videos but we find that viewership drops off dramatically after 30 seconds," Hansen said.

In response, Projectline creates short animated videos that take viewers through the need, solution and results. Hansen describes them as similar to "infographics in video form."

 

Avanade Forest Oil Promo from Stepframe Interactive on Vimeo.

 

5. Links within case studies

Projectline encourages clients to include helpful links in written customer case studies, helping readers click to more information about the solutions and companies featured. Then, the firm can track those links to know whether a case study encouraged a customer to research further.

 

The biggest challenge today?

Hansen notes that the channels where buyers get information are continuously changing and expanding, and they vary from company to company and industry to industry. A company may want to share customer evidence on social media sites, but their customers may not be there, or might be on one platform and not another.

As always, it's about knowing where customers are and meeting them there.

 

How about you? What trends are you seeing the market?

 

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Casey Hibbard

Casey Hibbard is the founder and president of Compelling Cases, Inc. and author of "Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset." She has helped dozens of companies create and manage nearly 500 customer case studies and success stories over the past decade. Casey is featured in numerous books, articles, and teleclasses. She consults with organizations one-on-one and conducts online customer-story classes.