9 October 2018

Customers for Case Studies: How to Identify the Right Ones—And Get Them to Say Yes

SaaS case studies are effective marketing tools—when they’re done right. You need strong source material to build a SaaS case study that works. And for that, you first need to identify the right customers for case studies, and then convince them to agree to participate, which can be the trickiest part of the whole process.

Participation requires time and commitment on the part of your customer. It’s a favor to you, after all. But with a little planning and the right tactics, you’ll be able to secure your customer’s cooperation and smooth the way to creating a killer case study.

Here are 6 steps to identifying customers for case studies and getting them to say “yes”:

1. Select the right customer

The customer you choose to showcase in your SaaS case study should be both cooperative and candid. They love your service. It’s brought them dramatic results.

Perhaps you’ve worked closely with this customer and fostered a positive relationship. Maybe you’ve solved a challenge that your customer’s previous vendor couldn’t. Or maybe they’re in an industry you haven’t featured yet.

Survey your sales and customer service teams for suggestions of customers who might be ideal to feature—exceptional customers, those who have reported success or new customers to keep an eye on. Ultimately, you want SaaS case studies that showcase a wide variety of use cases.

Don’t forget your target audience

Not all of your customers have a relatable story to tell, even if it’s one you’re particularly proud of. Think about exactly who you’re trying to reach. The case study must be relevant to them. Feature customers who are:

  • in similar industries
  • from similar-sized organizations
  • struggling with similar challenges

2. Approach at the right time

Finding the right time to ask for participation in a SaaS case study can be tricky—too early, and you may turn off the customer. Ask too late, and the details of your interactions may no longer be top of mind.

The ideal time for the customer to speak about their experience is after they’ve had just enough time to see results. Depending on the service, this may be take weeks or months. The best case studies have data to back them up, and that can take time to collect.

3. Lay the groundwork early

Develop a system to identify potential customers for case studies early and get the feedback loop started. Here are 3 tactics:

1. During project kickoff, ask your customers what their goals are for your engagement. Ask them how they will track and measure results. You can refer back to this later.

2. Check in regularly. Deliver a short survey to your customer at set intervals, whether that’s every month or every quarter. Keep it short, painless and informative. For example:

  • What is the best part of working with us?
  • How are we helping you meet your goals?
  • What could we do better?
  • How likely are you to recommend our service?

This gets them accustomed to giving feedback and gives you more to work with.

3. Put it in the contract. You could include a clause about sharing results at specific milestones. This tells your customer that you have a vested interest in making sure they are successful.

4. Make an offer they can’t refuse

It’s true that your customer is helping you … but when you ask for their participation, pitch it as a win-win opportunity. Let them know you intend to:

  • highlight their services
  • distribute the SaaS case study in places that will reach their prospective customers too
  • promote the SaaS case study (and hence their name) in social media, landing pages, newsletters and on your website

5. Go one step further: offer an incentive

If it makes sense to do so, offer your customer something in return for their participation in your SaaS case study, such as:

  • additional services or assistance
  • a discounted rate
  • free service
  • a boost in profile

6. Be clear about your expectations

Always make sure your customer understands what you need. Outline the process up front, as well as your requirements in terms of content and deadlines.

Make the process as smooth as possible by hiring a writer with a background in the industry, and by requesting a manageable interview time of 20 to 30 minutes.

Let the customer know they don’t have to worry about any surprises along the way, and that they’ll have the opportunity to review and approve the final SaaS case study before it is made public.

And finally …

When it comes to getting customers for case studies, it’s a good idea to adopt the habit of checking in on them regularly. Not only is it good service, but it strengthens your relationship.

If the lines of communication are open and in place from day 1, asking your customer for help with a SaaS case study will feel much more organic—and their response is more likely to a positive one.

Next step?

Now it’s time to develop a clear writer’s brief for your case study writer to use to make sure they have all the information they need to write a compelling B2B SaaS case study.

This is the second post in a 7-part series on case study best practices.


Case studies are the social proof your customers crave

Case studies employ a level of transparency that’s difficult to achieve in any other marketing content. They not only show what you can do, but how you do it and what the real-life impacts are. Use them strategically, and use them often. Find out about Uplift’s case study writing services.

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Emily Amos
Emily Amos

As the founder of Uplift Content, Emily leads teams in creating done-for-you case studies, ebooks and white papers for high-growth SaaS companies. Check out her bio.

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