Why We Love Case Studies (And You Should, Too!)
Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash
Industrial suppliers of components or engineered products, who read this blog, already know the most valuable type of content for their websites. It’s downloadable 3D CAD models and 2D CAD sales drawings for saving customers time, generating leads and converting to sales.
BUT WHAT OTHER MARKETING MATERIALS SHOULD INDUSTRIAL SUPPLIERS USE?
The answer is materials that your customers find relevant and valuable, that helpfully address their problems and business challenges! The point is to increase your brand awareness with material that demonstrates expertise in your domain and, above all, helps your target audience. That audience will inevitably want to know more about the company behind such useful resources and learn more about your products and services. We previously wrote about how marketing to engineers can be very different but we think this answer applies to both engineers and non-engineers.
It is also worth stating what the answer is NOT! In this March 2017 study, Emphatic Content: The Key to Engaging B2B Buyers, Forrester reported finding that 54 of 60 B2B medical device, manufacturing, and semiconductor firms websites focused “narrowly on what firms do, not on what helps customers.” It added that site content focused on “products, features, and implementation choices” while “important industry trends, customer stories, or relevant use cases take a back seat.”
OTHER THAN CAD, WHAT CONTENT IS BEST?
Let’s start by reviewing the latest B2B marketing research on the types of generic content that B2B customers value the most. A new Forrester report was published this month, Peer Stories And Credible Data Attract And Engage B2B Buyers based on a Q1 2017 survey of 214 business technology buyers in the US, UK, Germany and France.
This report helps B2B marketers tune their marketing content to buyers' interests by boosting relevance and empathy to their target audiences. A short summary of the report by DigitalCommerce360 is here and indicates buyers preference ranking of different types of content when exploring and deciding to make purchases. At the top of the list (71% of respondents) was “customer, industry, or peer case studies” closely followed by “White papers with supporting data” (68%) and “Business case/ROI content” (67%).
As they say “Business buyers deciding what to purchase want information about what their peers at other companies are buying, and why, and they prefer short reports and infographic data displays to help them decide.” Incidentally, Forrester also says that, “a lot of business content simply fails to compel prospects and existing customers to take an interest in it.”
5 CONTENT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INDUSTRIAL SUPPLIERS
1. START WITH CAD: If applicable to your products, use CAD models as a primary content type in your marketing. (CAD models are applicable if your components or parts are included in the CAD designs of your customers’ products)
2. MAXIMIZE ROI: We’re big fans of maximizing marketing spend return on investment:
- Re-purpose existing content you’ve already developed - for example, your CAD models should be a key component of each part detail page of your catalog and be re-purposed in various derivatives uses as detailed in this blog post
- Add new content that further leverages existing content - for example, produce case studies about how your CAD models helped your customers. Success stories about how your CAD models and drawings saved time or money or improved time to market or prevented errors, etc. will encourage more use of your CAD
- Add new content per the Forrester research, primarily in case studies, whitepapers and ROI business cases
3. ENSURE TRUSTWORTHINESS: When evaluating companies, buyers tend to trust material from customers and third-parties, such as research firms, more than marketing material created by the company. Data and outside sources create the highest credibility so use them to support the points you are trying to make. For example, if you use your own research include a customer testimonial and corroborating data from a trust-worthy third party source.
4. DON’T CONFUSE MESSAGE, MEDIUM AND CHANNEL. You might be wondering why we haven’t yet mentioned things like infographics, videos or webinars – the reason is that these are MEDIUMS. You can deliver a MESSAGE (say a case study) as a webpage, a PDF file, an infographic, a video webinar or some other way. The keys are to use whatever best reaches your target audience and captures their attention. On the latter point, use short form content to best capture customer’s attention! According to the above Forrester report, 6 pages is the limit when reading written material, 30 minutes when viewing webinars, and 90 seconds when watching videos. Of course the length of time they spend will depend on your particular audience, though we suspect engineers will spend longer. Also, you may be able to break your longer content up into a series of chunks to serve both engineers and non-engineers. The CHANNELS you choose to use depend on how your customers prefer to receive information or particular types of information – for example, by email, via your website, by newsletter, your YouTube channel, selected social media, etc. etc.
5. USE THIS CHECKLIST: Ensure you can answer YES to each question on every piece of content you create:
- Will it capture your target audience’s attention?
- Will it be deemed trust-worthy?
- Does it address a challenge your buyer might be having?
As always, please add a comment below. If you'd like our opinion on your current website, CAD models or other marketing material please call or click either button below: