Archive for the 'Case Studies' Category

3 Deadly Pitfalls When Creating Case Studies

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Editor’s note: This is Casey Hibbards first guest post.

In an age of buyer skepticism, customer case studies – like white papers – provide the essential credibility, education and validation that buyers need to make purchase decisions. As a growing marketing communications tool, case studies are also a major opportunity for copywriters.

But stories have to deliver results…

To produce stories that resonate with readers – and impress your organization or clients – avoid some of these common case study mistakes. (more…)

White Paper Marketing Case Study, Social Networking

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Can you leverage social media to generate leads with white papers?

Business intelligence company Information Builders did just that. A recent MarketingSherpa report reveals how they did it.

Here are the highlights:

Information Builders leveraged a B2B social networking site to distribute a series of white papers. But there’s more to this story.

Chris Boylan, Information Builders director of Internet marketing wanted to generate leads without making his company feel like an intruder on the site.

First, they spent an entire year sponsoring an email discussion group. They monitored the type of people involved in the discussions.

Then, they created a series of white papers that were high level educational pieces.

“There has to be a blend between thought pieces and other pieces that show we have the expertise to bring this in to deploy it at your site and make it successful,” Boylan says.

The company promoted the white papers using an RSS feed related to business intelligent, in the weekly email newsletters of the social networking site and on blogs and discussion groups.

The Results

The social network audience responded positively. Information Builders exceeded their lead generation goals by 42 percent and had a 750% return on investment.

The thought leadership papers brought in the most leads with titles such as “Establishing a Culture of Measurement: A Practical Guide to Business Intelligence.”

Boylan explained:

“With these high-level pieces, we’re being seen as a thought leader. So, when people come to point of identifying a short list of vendors for their own BI implementation, they’ll hopefully look at us as the ones who helped them come up with their whole project plan.”

What are your thoughts about this study?


White Paper Landing Page Study Results

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Many of you have asked for test results from my white paper landing page strategy.

The strategy: Simply stated, the strategy involves taking the first few pages of your white paper and formatting it like an article that extends below the bottom of the screen. Once the reader has scrolled down and been hooked by your content, you require registration to access the rest of the paper.

Here is the page that was tested.

The Results:

  • Visitors: This page had 5000 visitors in 52 days
  • Conversions: 849 people (17%) completed the form at the bottom of the page
  • Newsletter registrants: 535 people (63% of those converting) opted into our newsletter
  • Other actions: Another 939 people (19%) that did not complete the form, took another favorable action (like clicking on the book available for sale)
  • Stickiness: 1215 people (24%) stayed on the page for one or more minutes

This study shows that by providing valuable content, you can achieve a very favorable lead generation strategy.

Your thoughts?


Doubling White Paper Registrations, Study

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Want to improve your white paper registrations?

Ask for less.

Recently MarketingSherpa ran a case study on how National Instruments was able to improve registration form completion by 37 percent.

The main change: Reduce the number of form questions:

“We had this huge form that was asking for every little bit of information possible,” Kristi Hobbs, eCRM Group Manager says.

Some of the questions asked on the bad form included:

  • Describe your type of work
  • Types of measurement
  • Annual budget for testing and measuring

Hobbs had her team design one easy to use form and the results have been excellent.

Are you asking too much??

What are some good and bad questions you have seen or used?


Case Study or White Paper?

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

What is more important, the case study or the white paper?

This is the essence of a new article called “Write a Case Study Fit for Hollywood” posted on

Here is the scene…

Imagine you’re whiling away your time in the doctor’s office waiting room. You decide to catch up on some business reading. Out of your briefcase, you pull two pieces of marketing collateral from two different companies. Assuming that your interest in both companies is equal, which will you read first – the 2-page case study or the 12-page white paper?

The author, Mary McCauley-Stiff, goes on to claim:

Ding-ding-ding! The case study wins again! (For those who prefer the white paper – sorry, you’re outnumbered. The informal “Google vote” shows 246 million search results for “case study” and 143 million search results for “white paper.”)

The essence of her claim is that people like a good story and will go for the shorter case study.

MY QUESTION: Is Mary right? What say you?

Case Studies vs. White Papers, What’s the Difference?

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Jim Szopinski asks, “What is the difference in content between a white paper and a case study?

Great question, Jim! You’d be surprised how often this question comes up.

Let’s start this answer with a definition of a case study.

This is a bit technical, but here we go:

Case study refers to the collection and presentation of detailed information about a particular participant or small group, frequently including the accounts of subjects themselves. A form of qualitative descriptive research, the case study looks intensely at an individual or small participant pool, drawing conclusions only about that participant or group and only in that specific context,” as explained by Colorado State University’s online writing guide.

In other words, case studies typically examine a specific company and its experience with a product or service. They often include quotes from a key person at that company and are designed to help prospects see an example of how a solution worked for someone else.

Sample titles might include:

  • How Microsoft Streamlined Their Internal Communications
  • Enhancing Worker Productivity: Wal-Mart’s Story

Case studies typically start with an explanation of the specific problems faced by the study participant. They go on to introduce the reasons for selecting the ultimate solution and the final outcome.

Here is a specific example of a case study WhitePaperSource produced:

Now to your question: What is the difference between white papers and case studies?

Where a case study focuses on a very specific case example, a white paper tends to NOT include details about how specific customers have benefited from a product or solution.

Rather, the white paper will examine general business problems and how to solve them (or describe processes). A case study can be used in conjunction with a white paper, typically as a follow-up sales piece.

The core elements of a case study include:

  • The specific problem
  • Why solution X was selected
  • The results

The core elements of a white paper include:

  • General problems faced by readers
  • A discussion of the solution
  • Business benefits

Finally, both white papers and case studies both are very powerful marketing tools.

Do you agree? Join the discussion.

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