Have you ever published a case study?
They say there is nothing definite except death, taxes, and data.
Okay, the expression goes, “There is nothing definite except death and taxes,” but I tweaked it.
I may have conveniently changed the expression, but it fits.
In the late Middle Ages, Francis Bacon developed his scientific method which was simple despite its revolutionary implications: People can discover the truth by testing.
This post will take Bacon’s 4 steps to the Scientific Method and apply it to blogging. By the end of this post, you will have an action plan, a simple 4-step structure to writing posts that will give you credibility, traffic, and conversions. A case study blog post will give you that structure.
What is a Case Study?
When you publish a case study, you are publishing unique data, unique research. Your case study must be original. Readers will believe your post because your case study provides evidence that what you are claiming in your post actually happened.
Why is Data Needed?
Hubspot‘s Lindsay Kolowich agrees that data is needed in your blog posts. “Data-driven content catches people’s attention.” Kolowich believes it is a mistake not to use data in your articles.
Famous blogger and marketer Michael Hyatt echoes Kolowich’s sentiments:
We significantly changed our approach to blogging. We started to publish and share articles that were a lot more science-driven. Any argument we would mention was backed up by actual, reputable academic research.
Hyatt goes as far as to say that using that tactic helped him grow his company’s revenue.
The Shout Me Loud blog agrees and calls not using exact data a “terrible blog mistake you should never make.”
Recycling Company News agrees with the value of data. “Back up what you say. Data goes a long way.”
A Case Study is More than Just Data
To write a case study post you need:
- A theory How will you arrive at a theory you want to test? I arrive at my theories by observing my statistics. Also, I come up with theories by reading blog posts of other bloggers in my niche and then interviewing them about their methods.
For example, I read a post by Hugh Roberts about how to get traffic from Flipboard. I questioned Hugh about his methods and came up with a theory to test. I plan on testing the theory and publishing the results of my case study in a future post.
In addition, I questioned author Gary Jefferies about his StumbleUpon techniques. I came up with a theory based on that interview which I plan on testing and publishing a study showing my results in a future blog post.
- You need to pick a subject that you are going to test a theory on. That subject is your “case.” You present your study of that subject.
- Data showing the results of your test According to blogger Harsh Agrawal, “Content may be king, but data is queen.”
I love to publish case studies. I believe they offer credible proof that my tips work.
In order to perform a case study, you need a theory and a subject to test your theory on.
I often use myself as a test subject since it’s easy to get my own data since I have the screenshots.
Why You Should Write a Case Study Blog Post
A Case Study Helps Your Readers
- Case studies provide value to your reader. According to SarkeMedia, case studies are a valuable way to educate your reader. According to Crazy Egg, readers find them so informative, they are willing to subscribe to your blog just to be able to read one case study.
The SarkeMedia blog goes as far as to say that your visitors will be so empowered by your article, they will become permanent readers and subscribe.
- Your steps are replicable. Your readers will be able to replicate your study so they, too, can see your results.
A Case Study Helps You
- Your brand improves. When people cite from your articles, your reputation as a blogger increases. The element of proof provides tremendous credibility for you.
According to the Ashlee Liz blog, analytics are a blogger’s best friend because they provide proof which gives you credibility as a blogger in the eyes of your readers.
According to HubShout, “Arguments and claims are much more compelling when rooted in data and research.” The blog insists that numbers will convince your readers your claims are correct. “Data-driven content catches people’s attention in a way that fluffy arguments do not.”
- Your traffic increases. This is due to the popularity of case study posts.
Readers love to read case studies. My case study post This Will Make You See 566 Page Views in 12 Hours was my fifth best-performing post of all of 2016.
At the time of this writing, my case study showing how Flipboard users can increase their traffic by 10 times is my third highest-performing post of this year.
According to SarkeMedia, “Case studies are powerful because they allow the customer to visualize the success you bring easily. They make you memorable.” According to the blog, people love to read case studies.
The blogger is not the only one who benefits from the case study post. A case study has advantages for the marketer as well. According to the SocialMs blog, creating a case study is one of the best ways to do marketing.
- Your SEO improves. According to Neil Patel, case studies are so valuable, people will often cite from them. That means you get a link to your site from the blog that cited you, and your SEO will improve. This would also improve your search engine traffic. Marketer Sam Hurley agrees. “Data-driven posts get linked.”
- You could lose traffic if you don’t write case studies. According to the Webnots blog, people won’t read your blog if you don’t authenticate your claims. “To make it more interesting for your readers, bloggers will have to pursue a data-driven approach to blogging.”
In her article, 5 Things You’re Doing Wrong as a Blogger, Heidiann Williams explains she refuses to read a blog if bloggers don’t authenticate their claims. She complains about “the blogger who is exaggerating or downright lying to get you to click on their links.”
How to Write a Case Study Blog Post
There are certain criteria that make a case study post successful.
- Cite sources to support your theory. The Recycling News Company offers a warning: you need to cite credible sources or your post will lose credibility.
- Go in sequence. I often provide my case study posts using a before and after format. Your readers will be able to follow the steps you took to see comparable results.
In my post, This Is How to Rank for Long-Tail Keywords, 5 Free Secret Tips, I took a before and after approach. I was trying to show that Clay Smith‘s SEO tips I was sharing actually work. In order to do this, I had to show my Google traffic stats before I started using the tips and then again afterward.
- Have screenshots. If I can, I show a screenshot of my stats before I did the study. Then, I show another screenshot of the stats after I’m done with the study. Numbers don’t lie. Your readers will see with their own eyes that your tips work.
In my post about how to increase your Klout score, I had many screenshots. I offered many tips for improving your Klout score. With each tip I followed, I showed the score increased using screenshots.
- Use numbers as data. You should have measurable tips. By providing data, you readers can see if they achieved your results. In 9 Proven Ways to Skyrocket Your Blog Traffic, my test subject Jordan claimed that he had received 40,000 page views from StumbleUpon inside of one year. The study explained how he did it.
- Cite facts. If you bring in opinions, your readers could conclude your claims are opinion and you will lose the credibility the case study should bring to you. Crazy Egg‘s Sharon Hurley Hall agrees you should use facts and avoid opinion.
Apply Bacon’s 4 Steps to the Scientific Method:
Step 1: Theorize or hypothesize
Before you can conduct a case study, you need to come up with a theory. The theory needs to be measurable, so it should involve data. Readers want to know they accomplished what you accomplished.
Many of my theories are that the tips presented in my post work.
Case Study Post: 9 Proven Ways to Skyrocket Your Blog Traffic, Theory: By following Jordan’s steps, readers could get 40,000 page from StumbleUpon in less than a year.
Case Study Post: How to Become a Powerful Blogging Influencer with Klout, Theory: By following the steps I outlined in the post, readers could increase their Klout score.
Step 2: Decide how to conduct your case study
You need to come up with a subject you will test your theory on. Hubspot recommends asking your readers to serve as the subjects of your study. After all, if they’ve successfully followed your tips, they might be happy to help you. On the other hand, you could serve as your own subject.
In 9 Proven Ways to Skyrocket Your Blog Traffic, Jordan was the subject.
In How to Become a Powerful Blogging Influencer with Klout, I was the subject.
This part of Bacon’s method has you deciding what you will need to perform the study. For example, will you be using any tools like apps or websites? Whether it’s a subject or tools, you gather them at this stage.
Step 3: Conduct the case study
You need to devise an action plan to test your theory. Present the plan in your post. Detail in sequential steps what you did so your readers can copy your steps to achieve the same outcome. Don’t forget to format. Bullet or number your steps.
Theory: A Twitter expert’s methods of increasing Twitter followers work.
Subject: I was the subject
Methods: My methods took a before and after approach.
I showed a before screenshot showing a count of my Twitter followers at the beginning of the case study.
I used the tools the expert theorized would increase Twitter traffic, Tweepi and Crowdfire, for about a month. I explained how I used them in my case study blog post.
I showed an “after” screenshot showing a count hundreds higher than when my case study began.
Sometimes, people help me conduct the study. For example, I devised a theory that commenting on Pinterest would increase traffic. I asked my friend blogger Susan Langer to comment back and forth with me so I could test my theory.
Step 4: Determine the results. The tips work!
If you can prove your tips valid in your study, wonderful! Your readers will be able to follow your steps to achieve success like you.
If the data at the end of your study don’t prove your tips work, self-reflect. Offer an analysis of why you don’t think your tips proved true when it came to the data. This self-reflection alone will be endearing to your visitors. Readers respect honest writers.
Not every scientist successfully tested a theory the first time. If your first result was disappointing, keep testing!
Testimonial About the Value of a Case Study
According to content writer Su-Ann Bubacz, (WriteMixforBusiness), [2/3/2017] “Testing is the only way to write a story or post on benefits without speculating on how or if it works.”
Are you Ready to Go the Scientific Route?
Readers look for variety in blog post formats. A “one-trick pony” can become boring. Consider yourself a scientist for this type of post. A case study is a valuable way to provide variety in blog post formats for your readers.
As you can see, bloggers and even marketers agree that a case study is valuable for you and helpful for your readers.
Readers, please share, so other content creators know the value of a case study.
This post shared how to perform a case study, the reasons you should perform a case study, and what you need to do so.
Have you ever conducted a case study? How was your blog post received by your readers? I look forward to your views in the comment section.