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Do Buyers Still Read Case Studies?

The written case study still reigns.

I realize that I’m not the most unbiased authority on the supremacy of the written customer case study. I earn my living writing case studies and teach other writers to do the same.

But a recently released survey from Eccolo Media backs me up.

Eccolo Media surveyed more than 500 B2B technology buyers about the types of content they consume, when, and the value of it in their purchase decisions. This year's Eccolo Media 2014 B2B Technology Content Survey Report revealed that more buyers prefer customer case studies in a written format than in other forms. They also like the traditional narrative format over shorter formats.

"In general, buyers overwhelmingly prefer traditional written case studies to those presented as audio, video, one-page summaries, or Microsoft PowerPoint slides," the report states (page 9 sidebar).

It goes on to say...

"Small business buyers show a slight preference for one-page summaries when compared with mid-market and enterprise respondents, but even they prefer traditional written case studies over other formats."

That's good news for companies because high-quality video case studies can be expensive and usually require more logistics to pull off. And it's excellent news for writers looking to help companies create their customer stories.

Eccolo also revealed...

  • Case studies are in the top three most consumed types of content. White papers again took the lead this year, followed by product brochures/data sheets. Detailed technology guides/implementation scenarios were tied with case studies in the #3 spot.
  • In questions about the influence of case studies in the sales process, case studies were the second most influential type of content, behind white papers. Forty-eight percent said case studies are very or extremely influential. White papers and case studies even beat the old product brochure/data sheet!
  • 56% of enterprise-level buyers used case studies to evaluate a purchase in the last six months. Twenty-three percent of small business buyers used them.

When are they used in the sales cycle?

  • 48% first reviewed case studies during the pre-sales phase when they were not aware of their problems
  • 25% reviewed them first during initial sales
  • 12% during mid sales
  • 15% during final sales


What else do buyers think?

  • 71% of buyers consume vendor content on a mobile device. Short, digestible, easy-to-read formats aid in mobile consumption. (Perhaps create more than one version of a case study for easier mobile reading.)
  • 62% receive vendor content via social channels. Oddly, Facebook is the top social media channel where buyers receive vendor content but respondents named LinkedIn the "most likely to consume" channel.
  • 68% often or very often click links embedded in content for more information.

Whether you’re planning your company’s case study efforts for 2014 or you’re a writer assisting organizations with creating impactful content, check out the survey. It’s packed with valuable insight.

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.