6 Essential Places to Use Customer Case Studies in the B2B Buyer’s Journey

Customer case studies are a great way to help instill trust and faith in the minds of your prospects. Because of today’s advertisement saturation, B2B buyers tend to mistrust companies on principle.

“Oh, what is someone trying to sell me now?” is a typical response one might have to another pop-up ad trying to hype up some huge discount or the amazing effect that a product can have. Whereas once, ads were typically contained to print, newspapers, and television, now we encounter advertisements everywhere we look. As a result, the public is understandably burnt out on some of the more tried and true marketing methods.

Through a customer case study, you can allow your prospective customers to experience your product or service through the eyes of a peer. It is not your average company line, read the fine print style of messaging. Customer case studies allow your audience to connect on a personal level with someone that may be a lot like them. It is a way that they can see precisely how your product or service directly addresses their specific pain points.

That’s why you’re starting to see more customer testimonial videos in advertising than ever before. But a lot of companies that use these helpful marketing tools often underestimate their usefulness. A common misconception is that customer case studies are only relevant for BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel) prospects, which means that the lead is highly qualified and ready to make a purchase decision.

However, customer case studies can be used throughout all levels of the buyer’s journey, from beginning to end.

What is the Buyer’s Journey?

The buyer’s journey is a detailed map of how the customer goes from discovering your company to making a purchase decision. A lot of businesses like to use the model of the buyer’s journey as it is more complete than your typical sales funnel. That’s because it starts long before the buyer is even aware of your business.

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The buyer’s journey is a six-step process from beginning to end. Let’s go through each stage of the buyer’s journey so that we can have a better understanding of how customer case studies can fit in.

Step 1: Awareness

At the beginning of the awareness stage, the buyer has certain pain points and acknowledges that they need to take action. They start searching for companies which focus on addressing those specific issues.

When a company is trying to attract potential customers in the awareness stage, they are designing content that is typically industry focused and looks at the big picture.

The ultimate goal of the first step is for the customer to gain awareness of your product through one of your marketing channels, such as social media, sponsorships, PR, or advertising efforts.

Step 2: Interest

In the interest stage, the buyer starts shopping around for a good or service that will help them alleviate their pain point.

At this point in the cycle, marketing materials should focus on solutions and customer education. This is all done in an attempt to catch the eye of the buyer while they’re shopping around.

Targeted advertising and SEO help a company to achieve success in this time period.

Step 3: Consideration

In the consideration phase, the buyer begins to evaluate specific products and reaches out to sales representatives. This is the first stage in which contact takes place between the customer and business.  

Marketing efforts for potential customers in the third stage of the buyer’s cycle should focus on data, demos, videos, trials, and competitor comparison information.

This is the point in which most people implement case studies, but, as we will point out later, it is not the only place where a company can effectively use them.

Step 4: Purchase

This is where the customer commits to a company and justifies the reasoning behind their purchase. Many would argue that step four is the most important leg of the buyer’s journey and it is the ultimate goal of all B2B marketing campaigns.

Companies achieve a purchase decision through strong marketing. Content aimed at buyers in this stage of the journey should be all about validation of their purchase decision.

This is also the stage where implementation and onboarding take place, along with live training, webinars, kick-off meetings, and the review of user guides.

Step 5: Post-Purchase

Post-purchase, the buyer is actively using the good or service and deciding whether or not they like it.  

In this stage, it becomes important to nurture these customers through continuous educational content. One way to help retain their business at this level is to offer loyalty programs.

Make sure that you’re checking in with the customer often. This can be done with a phone call or even email outreach such as a newsletter. It’s important to make your customers feel safe and supported in order to retain their loyalty.

Step 6: Re-Purchase/Upsell

In the final stage of the buyer’s journey, the customer either purchases the product again or considers an upsell scenario to expand their use. This could also be the stage in which they abandon the service.

Marketing efforts for customers in the final leg of the buyer’s journey should be focused on resolving issues and making sure that they are happy. Look for opportunities to upsell and try to receive referrals.

Case Studies in the Awareness Phase

In this first stage of the buyer’s journey, the customer is aware of their pain points. This is the first logical place in which customer case studies can make an impact.

Video testimonials and case studies need to be shorter and more high level in the awareness phase. They need to be paced faster and should be optimized for people who don’t fully understand what the offer is yet.

The testifying customer should take some time to explain the product in these awareness testimonials. This stage is all about understanding the assumptions about your industry and product while taking steps to familiarize customers with its effectiveness.

In the awareness phase, you can’t assume that a viewer has a strong understanding of what your product does, nor do they know its benefits. That’s why you have to lead with some background information so that the viewer will come to understand what your product does and why it is relevant.

Once you’ve produced your video testimonials for awareness-level customers, you should market them along your social media, targeted specifically at the main demographic.

Facebook and Google employ algorithms that have become so advanced, they will pinpoint individuals who could have a need for your service based on their interests along with search and browsing history.

Make sure that you’re hitting on the most common pain points that your customers face and show how they were overcome.

Your case study might be the deciding factor that moves someone from the awareness phase into interest.

One effective example of this in the consumer space comes from a fitness program called DDP Yoga. A former paratrooper with the U.S. Army filmed a case study video wherein he went from being overweight and walking with crutches to losing over 100 pounds and walking unassisted.  

Customers who are looking for ways to lose weight could stumble upon this case study and be blown away by the results, thus moving them along into the interest phase. At a high level, the same concept works in the case of B2B prospects. Showcase an ability to alleviate the pain points of a business and they will show an interest in your company.

Case Studies in the Interest Phase

You should always make sure that you have case studies throughout your website as well as on all of your social media pages as pinned posts. That is done to capture the attention of potential customers in the interest phase who are starting to look at your product. You can also include case studies in your knowledge base page wherever appropriate.

You’ll want to make sure that when buyers follow your marketing and advertising, they can easily find your case studies. If done correctly, you could make customer case studies the “face” of your company.

Another great place to include these videos could be to include them in cold emails that are being sent from the sales department or in any responses to requests for information.

It’s important to always make sure that your sales team is aware of the video case studies you have and where they can be found. They also need to understand how and where they should be sending them out.

It sounds simple, but many sales reps don’t know that these video case studies exist.  This can be one of the most valuable tools in the sales rep arsenal, so make sure that you are arming your sales team with information on how to utilize these video studies.

Case Studies in the Consideration Phase

The consideration phase is what people assume to be the most common place for case studies and testimonial videos.

When speaking with a prospective buyer who is in the consideration phase, it can be helpful to send along customer case studies to aid in their decision.

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This is the stage in which you can let your videos be a bit longer and more involved. At this point, you have the attention of the prospective buyer and they are hungry for more information. You can also create several versions of the same case study to fit in different places throughout the buyer’s journey. These videos don’t have to be one size fits all.

The beauty of a case study is that you’re letting a former customer do the selling for you. Once the video has been seen by the prospect, it’s a good idea to reference back to it throughout the sales process.

Sales reps can consistently point out what worked and didn’t work for those people in the video and use them as proof that the service does work.

Case Studies in the Purchase Phase

Some people might assume that once a purchase has been made there is no longer a need to include customer case studies into the new client’s journey.

However, in the purchase phase, it is possible to use customer case studies as a way to validate the buyer’s purchase decision. Prior to the purchase decision, they can be used as a final tipping point to help close a customer who is on the fence.

Make sure that you’re sending these videos along with any onboarding information that the customer is receiving. You should also reference the testimonial videos in kickoff meetings. It is a great way to open up talks about expectations and what needs to be done in order to get similar results.

Case Studies in the Post Purchase Phase

Following a purchase, when the customer is using your product or service, you can still send case study videos as a way to enhance or help with any support inquiries.

Use the testifying customers as shining examples. This is helpful in the event that your new customer is not having great results right off the bat. You can easily point to your case studies and try to figure out what is different about the present scenario.

You should also be including regular case studies in any newsletters that you send out along with any email correspondence. One idea is to have your sales representatives link to case study videos in the signature of their emails.

Case Studies in the Re-Purchase Phase

Case studies can have a great impact on a customer’s willingness to re-purchase a product or be upsold. Show case study videos to any customers who are thinking about leaving. Upselling can be a lucrative sales opportunity for your business so it’s important to take advantage of this.

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Showcase the stories of people who have purchased an upgraded service in additional case studies. This can help illustrate the effectiveness of the various levels of your business.

Consider filming a case study series which follows some of your customers as they go through the various tiers.

Conclusion

Case studies are a powerful tool that should be a major part of your marketing, sales efforts, and web presence, both on your own site and along social media platforms. Failure to include customer testimonials for your product or service places you at a marked disadvantage and gives up a potential means by which to build trust with your audience.

Utilize the power of customer case study videos and testimonial videos throughout the buyer’s journey to maximize their effectiveness and create a comforting environment to promote future sales.

Sam Shepler

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