Lead magnets in the water industry: Why? What? How?

lead magnet checklist

If you’re going to give it away make it worth it. An 8-point checklist

Introduction

In the last few years, the term lead magnet has become a bit of a buzzword. But what exactly is a lead magnet? And why is everyone making such a big deal about it?

lead magnet checklist

Essentially, whenever a prospect lands on your website, your end-goal is to drive profitable action. But visitors are seldom ready to make a decision right away. They want useful and relevant resources and information. That’s where lead magnets come in.

When you use lead magnets, you give your prospects access to gated content. In return, they fill out a signup form on your site. Voila! They just joined your email list, which makes it much easier to engage with, and convert them into future buyers, through email marketing.

In this post, we’ll look at why you need a lead magnet, what kind of lead magnet to offer, and how to make sure your lead magnet meets its goal.

Why give stuff away?

You may be asking why you should develop something valuable just to give it away? You do it because a lead magnet is a piece of content that will draw in the type of leads you want to your business. It’s a way for you to identify potential customers.

lead magnet checklist

The main benefit of a lead magnet is to grow your email list. Your lead magnet must, therefore, be valuable enough for a person to give you their contact details in return. Once a person has given you permission to email them, you can start to build a relationship with them. Pure gold!

What to give away?

The type of lead magnets you offer will depend on your product and on your prospects. Some good types of lead magnets for the water industry are:

Useful and educational resources

Once you have identified a topic your audience wants more information about, develop a short, concise piece of content that educates and informs. Infographics are excellent useful and/or educational lead magnets when professional designed and presented.

Just keep content assets short and leave them wanting more. Leave them wanting more information they can only get from contacting you directly.

Cheat sheets, and checklists

Cheat sheets are popular because they save people time. They work similarly to a checklist, only cheat sheets have a more actionable nature to them.

lead magnet checklist

Both cheat sheets and checklists are useful if you’re sharing tips that help readers understand complex tasks for the first time.

When developing a either cheat sheet or a checklist, remember to keep things brief and concise. With this type of content, it’s not about telling a story, it’s about getting straight to the value of your offering.

Video training/tutorials

Video tutorials have been shown to boost your conversion rate as much as five times! There are technologies that make it easy to create a step-by-step video product in just minutes. Tutorials help customers understand a process or see how easy it is to use your product. An excellent choice for demonstrating your water and/or waste treatment processes.

Webinars

Webinars are another highly efficient and currently quite popular lead magnet. Regularly scheduled webinars encourage your visitors to learn more about your company, your products/services, and your business culture. Remember, avoid making it purely promotional. In fact, you must offer value before asking for commitment from your leads.

Software downloads/demos

If your product is more intangible, like software, think about offering free downloadables. By offering a trial or a slimmed-down software version, you can significantly increase your conversion rate. Make sure your visitors have to opt-in before downloading your free product.

Surveys and quizzes

Depending on your audience online, surveys and quizzes can be effective. They encourage prospects to test their skills, knowledge, or attitude. You get to ask them for their contact information while entertaining them. You can also gain valuable information about your audience with clever survey/quiz questions.

How do you know your lead magnet is good? 8-point checklist

You’ve decided you need a lead magnet to build your email list. You have picked the perfect type of lead magnet for your audience. The next step is to develop an effective offering. So, what makes a lead magnet good? This checklist explains the eight criteria of a successful lead magnet:

  1. It is specific

Your lead magnet must be ultra-specific to the audience you want it to engage. If your offering isn’t relevant to their wants and needs, they aren’t going to download it.

  • It focuses on one emotionally compelling idea

It is a common theme in content marketing: one emotionally compelling idea. Your lead magnet should engage your reader on an emotional level. Solve a problem – generate gratitude. Offer a useful resource that makes their job easier – build trust. Give them an engaging quiz – entertain them.

  • It will solve a problem

Successful lead magnets are focused on solving a problem for the reader. Make life for your prospects easier, better, smarter.

  • It is useful

The offering must have value – actual value. Solve a problem for your lead. Provide valuable information. Offer a demo or free trial. Make sure it is valuable enough to your audience from them to give you their email address.

  • It is actionable

Lead magnets should provide instant gratification. Solve a problem, entertain, or educate – just do it quick!

  • It is concise

Lead magnets are for quick consumption. The rule is no more than 5 minutes to experience the content. Leave them wanting more.

  • It shifts the relationship

When the reader trades their contact information for your lead magnet, they are demonstrating trust. Trust that you will value their connection. Trust that you will follow up with them.

  • It must have high perceived value

Just because you are giving something away, it shouldn’t look free. Design and formatting must look professional and of high perceived value.

Conclusion

If you want to build a relevant contact list and establish a relationship with your prospective customers, you need a lead magnet. Email marketing still delivers the highest ROI of any channel, so the quality and size of your contact list is extremely important.

With a lead magnet you give your prospects something they want for free. In return you get contact information to use in email campaigns. However, before creating your next lead magnet, ask yourself this question:

What can we give away for free that will make our prospective customers’ lives better?

If you can answer that, you’ve got a great idea for a lead magnet!

Are you so busy making a difference to your clients that you don’t have time to tell your good news stories?  Have you solved a wastewater problem for a client, a community, a country? Then get that story out there!  Let the world know how your company solves problems and makes a difference.

That’s where WATER COPY comes in.  I research and write top quality science-based content. (Click here to see more details about my skills and experience).

Contact me to discuss your next content asset.


Book a FREE Consultation!

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Accelerate your blog: 10 things every effective blog must have

effective business blog

Introduction

Is your company blog effective?  What makes a blog effective anyway?

You established your company blog to reap the benefits of blogging.  You want to establish thought leadership, build trust, and generate leads.

There are 10 actions you can take today to make your blog more effective.  Each one is just a small action, but they add up to an effective company blog.

  1. Know your AUDIENCE(s)

The trick is to create blog content for your buyer personas.  But who are you talking to?  For a water effective business blogindustry blog, your audience may change through the sales funnel.  There are project managers investigating a problem their company is facing.  There are upper management decision-makers considering proposed solutions.  There are technical boffins assessing if the proposed solution will solve the problem.

Your blog shouldn’t be about a hard sell.  It shouldn’t be a platform for discussing current trends.  Your blog should be a way to educate your audience.  A way of engaging with prospects and moving them through the funnel.

  1. Name your blog AUTHOR(s)

Naming a blog author establishes credibility and builds trust.  You can work on developing a unique voice in your industry.  Because your audience changes through the sales funnel, your content should too.  You might establish several blog authors, that address different aspects of your buyers’ journey.

Blogging is a key element in establishing your company as thought leaders.  Naming your authors provides a sound foundation to build on.

  1. Keep the same DOMAIN

A major benefit of a company blog is moving your company page up in the rankings of major search engines.  Each time you post a blog, a page is added to your website.  That’s another page for search engines to investigate and rank.  But it only works if your blog is on the same domain as your company website – blog.domain.com or domain.com/blog.

  1. Enable SUBSCRIBERS

Don’t miss the value of building up a following of loyal blog readers. The more readers that subscribe to your blog, the more opportunities you have to fill the top of your sales funnel.   You also increase the number of visitors coming to your website regularly.

Every time you post a blog a message goes out to your list, letting them know it’s up.  Your subscribers may share that email with friends and colleagues, who then may subscribe themselves.  Every new subscriber is a potential lead.

  1. Maintain CONSISTENCY

An effective blog provides its readers with quality content on a consistent basis.  This is where your blog planning pays off.  An important part of a blog plan is the publishing schedule.  With a publishing schedule in place, it is much easier to post regularly.  Whether you blog monthly, weekly, daily, or multiple times a day, you want to keep it consistent.

  1. Provide quality CONTENT

A corollary to blogging consistently is providing quality content in each post.  Without quality content your blog may not achieve the traffic goals as planned.  You should monitor responses to each blog and how they impact site traffic on a monthly basis.  You may need to up the frequency to achieve your traffic goals.

  1. Encourage ACTION

Encourage your audience to take an action in every post.  A clear Call to Action (CTA) will pull them further into your site.  After reading quality content, your reader is primed for more valuable content.  Be sure it is relevant to the topic of each post.

For example, a powerful CTA:

  • is concise, and
  • action-oriented (maybe a short phrase using an action verb),
  • that plays on a visitor’s fear of missing out, or
  • evokes excitement and enthusiasm to stimulate action.

You might add an incentive to convert, some added bonus for acting.  Just be sure to encourage action in every post.

  1. Facilitate SHARING

Your blog should facilitate sharing with social share buttons. It’s the way your readers will share that fantastic article you recently posted.  The success of your blog depends on how many people read it.  As a matter of fact, social sharing buttons increased click-through rates by an astounding 55%!

There are several plug-ins that allow social sharing.  Be sure to include them on your blog.

  1. Optimize for SPEED and MOBILE

Optimize your blog so that it loads quickly on all devices.  There are online tools you can use to check loading speeds and identify areas for improvement.  One thing to check first is the size of images on the page.

Given the increasing use of mobile phones for internet searching, be sure to optimize your blog for smartphones and tablets.

  1. Boost your rankings with SEO

Although there are many channels for promoting your blog, you want to ensure readers can find you through search engines.  Part of optimizing your blog is in optimizing your content.  As discussed in the blog: 4 Ws and an H: Blog planning in five steps a couple of weeks ago, planning your blog topics around keywords makes it easier to optimize them for SEO.  Your focus keyword should feature prominently featured in page titles, headers, alt tags, and images.effective business blog

Another trick is to link other relevant content within your website.  Perhaps you have white papers or case studies on a related topic.  Where appropriate link to your product or services pages.  Search engines love this sort of linking and it will help move you up the ranks.

Ranking high on searches is incredibly important.  In fact, Marketshare found that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.

Conclusion

That’s ten actions you can take to increase the effectiveness of your company blog:

  1. Know your AUDIENCE(s)

  2. Name your blog AUTHOR(s)

  3. Keep the same DOMAIN

  4. Enable SUBSCRIBERS

  5. Encourage ACTION

  6. Maintain CONSISTENCY

  7. Provide quality CONTENT

  8. Facilitate SHARING

  9. Optimize for MOBILE and SPEED

  10. Boost your rankings with SEO

By taking these actions you will find your blog effectively:

  • increasing site traffic,
  • establishing your thought leadership and building trust,
  • moving you up in the search rankings, and
  • converting leads.

Is your company blog doing what you thought it would?  How do you ensure your blog is effective?

If your team is already working to capacity delivering quality services to your clients, how do you manage to produce and consistently deliver a quality blog every week?  WATER COPY can help!  I provide blog writing services that will keep your content machine running smoothly.  Contact me to discuss your blogging needs.

CONTACT A BETTER BLOG WRITER

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Blog Writing: It’s not just about words.  Write blogs that get clicked, read, and shared.

business blog writer

Introduction

You’ve decided you need to upgrade your company blog.  You need to provide quality content to your audience to build thought leadership and generate leads.  You need to quit filling your blog with product launch announcements and trade show pics.

You’ve written the blog plan.  You have a production schedule and a list of topics.  Now you need to write.  This can present a challenge, whether you like writing or not.  How does one go about writing a blog?

Check out these three tips on how to write a blog that gets clicked, read, and shared.

Tip 1: Get the basics right

There is a basic structure to any piece of quality content.  Get the basics right and your blog is that much more likely to get read.

Title/headline

The headline presents the first impression of post.  It’s important to get it right or readers won’t click through to read the content.  A headline should be actionable and keyword-focused.  Try to keep it brief.  Be clear and definitive, maybe even intriguing.

There are lots of guides out there on how to write a great headline.  Most agree that you can spruce up a mediocre headline by:

  1. including numbers,
  2. adding an intriguing adjective, or
  3. using action verbs.

The body copy

Any piece of content will be more engaging if it is focused on one emotionally compelling idea.  A blog post is no different.  You should have that emotionally compelling idea based on your keyword research, as discussed in last week’s post.  Now it’s time to write the post.

Always start with an outline.  Organize all the information that supports the one big idea and make sure it follows a logical flow.  Use headings and subheadings to divide the supporting information into sections.

Start with an introduction, where you tell the reader what you’re going to tell them.  Follow with the body copy, subdivided into sections with headings and subheadings.  This is where the real information is.  Finish with a conclusion that tells them what you told them.

Unique to blogs is the chance to get a conversation started.  Find a way to invite your readers to comment.  Follow the discussion and contribute solutions.

The call-to-action

Finish every post with a call-to-action.  As a powerful top-of-the-funnel tactic, your blog is the perfect place to pull prospects further into the funnel.  Get your readers to subscribe to your blog or to contact you or to read about your product and services.  Be sure to include that CTA.

Tip 2: Readability IS the new SEO darling

Although keywords and keyword phrases remain important, search engines are increasingly focused on readability.  Search engines want to be sure your content will fulfill the reader’s intent.  Most readers prefer easy-to-read text.  Here are some ways to make your text easy-to-read:

Use personal pronouns

Using personal pronouns gives your writing a conversational tone.  Personal pronouns seem to connect the reader to the writer.  A conversational tone helps your reader focus on your message rather than your language.business blog writer

Avoid jargon

In the water industry, it is easy to fall into using technical terms that may confuse some readers.  If you must use a technical term, especially when you’re writing for non-specialists, define it so all your readers can understand.

Avoid padding

Words like very, really, actually, or carefully don’t serve any purpose.  Keep in simple, keep it easy to understand.

By adopting an easy-to-read style, you can start engaging your audience.  Use personal pronouns, where appropriate.  Avoid jargon by choosing the right word. Avoid padding your text with words that serve no purpose.

Tip 3: Design it so readers will move right through to the CTA

You may not want to know this but not all your readers will read your entire blog.  Many blog readers (43%, according to Hubspot) admit to skimming content.  Rather than being offended by this, play to those readers.  Cater to all readers with the design of each blog.business blog writer

White space

Dense blocks of text can intimidate readers.  Clever use of white space – areas with no text or graphics – will lessen the stress.  Put in a few pull quotes to add variety to the blog’s visual flow.

Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings not only help with the flow of logic of the post, they provide a break from the text.  They allow skimmers to get the gist of the blog without having to read the entire article.  Optimize headings for keywords where possible.

Bulleted or numbered lists

Anytime your information allows, break up blocks of text with bulleted or numbered lists.  Again, they cater to skimmers, but they also help organize information into short concise portions.

Images

Photos, graphs, charts, and tables add visual appeal while providing in-depth information in an eye-catching format.  Keep graphs and charts relatively simple.

 

Conclusion

After all the meetings, the brainstorming, the planning, it’s time to write.  Writing posts for the company blog may never be your favorite thing to do but with these three tips you can help to ensure your post will get clicked, read, and shared.

 

How do you check the readability of your content?  Which tools do you like best?

 

If your team is already working to capacity delivering quality services to your clients, business blog writerhow do you manage to produce and consistently deliver a quality blog?  WATER COPY can help!  I provide blog writing services that will keep your content machine running smoothly.  Contact me to discuss your blogging needs.

CONTACT A BETTER BLOG WRITER

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4 W’s and an H: Blog planning in 5 steps

business blog planning

Introduction

Although by nature blogs have a certain spontaneity about them, an effective company blog is meticulously planned and consistently executed.  Planning ensures you meet your marketing goals by publishing quality content on a regular schedule.  Your subscribers and interested readers want to know when they can expect new content from a source they have come to trust. business blog planning

The blog plan sits within and supports your greater content marketing strategy.  However, a company blog is such a valuable marketing asset that it needs a plan of its own.  A plan that describes:

  1. Why you blog – Goals and objectives
  2. Who you blog to – Market and audience research
  3. What you blog about – Keyword research
  4. When you blog – Production scheduling
  5. How you blog – Promotion planning

This post will examine each step in building a blog plan.

Blog planning in 5 steps

1. Why you blog – Goals

The first step in any plan is to set goals.  In a blog plan, goals for the blog should support the company’s business goals as well as the goals of your content marketing strategy.  Goals like generating leads and building thought leadership.  By establishing goals and objectives for your blog in general and for each individual blog allows you to understand what success looks like.

2. Who you blog to – Market research

Market research helps to define your audience and assess your competitors.  The more you learn about your audience, the better able you’ll be to provide the content they want.  By understanding your competitors, you can craft better content.

Audience research

Getting to know your target audience is key to crafting relevant content.  You need to learn what:

  • people expect from blogs in your niche;
  • kind of content do they find useful and exciting;
  • benefits do they expect to receive from your blogs; and
  • makes them tick and compels them to keep coming back for more.

It may not be easy to define your target audience when you have no blog subscribers.  One way to get an idea of what your audience wants is to conduct a survey.  Ask what your audience wants more information about.  Ask what they like about your blog and what other blogs they like.

Competitive analysis

As well as understanding your audience you need to understand your competition.  How are they promoting their content?  What are they blogging about?  By having an insight into their content strategy, you can fine-tune your own.  Find your own unique voice in your niche.  You can only do that if you know the competition.

3. What you blog about – Keyword research

While there are many sources of ideas for topics to blog about, you can boost your search results by using keywords to come up with topics.  That means carrying out keyword research.

Start with main your main keyword.  Keyword analyzers suggest keyword combos then rank them on # of searches a month.  You should check out related words and terms.  Search on semantically-related words like the individual components of water treatment systems.

Long-tail keywords – 3 to 4-word phrases, will get you less traffic but more targeted searchers.  When they find your page, they are more likely to become a lead because the search was more focused.

business blog planningYou can find keywords and phrases through the auto suggest on Google.  When you type in a keyword or phrase, a dropdown list will display previous search phrases.

At the bottom of the Google search page is another source of keywords.  Google provides a list of other search terms and phrases that are similar to the current one.

By basing the topics on keywords and featuring the focus keyword in page titles, headers, alt tags, and images you can optimize your blog for search engines.  Be sure to provide links back to your power pages – products and services, and a call-to-action that encourages further engagement.

So, certainly, contact your sales team and find out what questions are being asked.  Join and follow forums in your niche, paying attention to problems being discussed.  Just be sure to research keywords regularly to keep you blog on the first page of Google.

4. When you blog – Production scheduling

The production schedule for your company blog fits into content calendar of your greater content marketing strategy (that further establishes thought leadership and builds trust by publishing white papers, case studies regularly.)business blog planning

You may want to plan posts in a series with a contextual lead magnet at end of each.  Start with big ideas based on market and keyword research, and then keep subdividing until each topic is based on one compelling idea.  Plan to post weekly to begin with but that is really a minimum.  Hubspot found that B2B businesses who blog at least 20 times per month have five times more traffic than those who blog less than four times per month.  Just keep it at a frequency you can maintain consistently.

5. How you blog – Promotion planning

The whole point of a blog is to get your posts read by as many people as possible.  That requires promotion.  The first place to post you blogs is on your company website, of course.  But there are other ways to get your information out to your audience.

Share each post on all your social media channels.  Have your employees send it out to their networks.  Send updates out to your email list with links to your recent post.

Set up your blog so readers can subscribe to get regular updates.  Allow social sharing by including those buttons on the blog.

Your blog is well planned, and you are consistently publishing quality content.  Be sure to get it read by as many people as possible by promoting it effectively.

Conclusion

Follow these 5 steps and you will have a plan that describes:

  1. Why you blog – Goals and objectives
  2. Who you blog to – Market and audience research
  3. What you blog about – Keyword research
  4. When you blog – Production scheduling
  5. How you blog – Promotion planning

Implement this plan consistently and reap the rewards!

Next week’s post examines how to make sure your blog is readable and visually appealing.

Do you have a blog plan? Is it documented and implemented?

 

If your team is already working to capacity delivering quality services to your clients, how do you manage to produce and consistently deliver a quality blog every week?  WATER COPY can help!  I provide blog writing services that will keep your content machine running smoothly.  Contact me to discuss your blogging needs.

CONTACT A BETTER BLOG WRITER

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Blogging benefits the water industry in four ways

Introduction

Why blog?  Is it that important in the water industry?

Let’s think about marketing in the water industry.  What are you selling?  Highly specialized and often complex technology that has a long operational life and a hefty price tag.  These kinds of systems don’t sell themselves nor will the hard sell impress the people who buy them.blogging benefits

How will a company blog help you sell your water treatment systems and services?  What your audience needs is information.  Not about your products but about the problems they are facing.  Once they figure out the problem, they need information about available solutions.

In fact, a typical B2B buyer is more than half way through the buyer’s journey before they engage directly with a supplier.  You gain trust by giving your audience quality information without a hard sell.  An important channel for publishing this information is your company blog.

Blogging benefits the water industry in four ways

You need to think about your company blog as a long-term marketing asset – a critical part of any inbound marketing program.  And although there are many direct benefits to the water industry from maintaining a company blog, four stand out.

Benefit 1:          Increasing traffic to your websiteblogging benefits

A water industry website tends to be static.  You may occasionally publish product updates or refresh some text, but the content mostly stays the same. With a blog, subscribers and new readers come to your site regularly for the fresh content.  Once they are there, they may browse other pages and find further value.

Your products and services pages are important.  Putting in-links from keyword-optimized hyperlinks in the blog will increase traffic to these critical pages.  In-links help boost your site with search engines too.

Benefit 2:          Establishing thought leadership and building trust

Sharing information allows you to establish thought leadership and build trust.  A blog is the perfect place to do just that.  Provide information about problems water managers may be facing and the solutions available.  Keep your blog updated and engaging so that when it comes time to contact a provider, your company comes to mind.

A key aspect of content marketing in general, and blogs in particular, is to avoid the hard sell.  Your posts should inform and entertain, not constantly blast your audience with ads, brochures, or technical fact sheets.

Convince prospects that you’re an involved and informed industry player.  Sharing information on your blog gives your readers insight into the value you offer.  Guide your audience and educate them in how to solve their problems.  But make sure they understand the complexity of the problem and its solution.  Let them know how your company can solve their problem seamlessly.

Benefit 3:          Optimized posts moving you up the search list

Search engines love blogs.  If you blog frequently, and frequency counts, you create more pages and more content for indexing.  This enhances organic traffic to your site when you blog comes up on the first page.

Optimizing each blog for keywords is a must.  Develop blog topics around industry-specific keywords.  However, ‘stuffing’ content with dozens of mentions of keywords is not optimizing.  In fact, search engines frown on the practice, which could lead to your site never appearing on the first page of Google.  Used strategically, however, keywords will bring more traffic to your blog and help to generate leads.

Remember though that SEO is not limited to keywords anymore.  Search engines now assess the readability of content.  The idea is readers prefer content that is easy to read.  Readability and visual design will be the topic of an upcoming blog.

Benefit 4:          Converting leads through Call-to-Actions

Blogs are a classic example of a top-of-funnel tactic.  An excellent top-of-funnel tactic.  Prospects that come to your blog for the quality content can quickly become leads.  Bring them further into the funnel with a clear, compelling call-to-action (CTA) each time you post.  Make the CTA relevant to the topic of the blog.  Invite the prospect to download educational or useful content in exchange for contact information.

An effective CTA leads to an offer that a prospect is willing to trade their contact information for.  What to offer, the lead magnet, will be covered in an upcoming series of blogs.

Conclusion

Clearly, there are many benefits for the water industry in maintaining an effective company blog.  The problems your clients are facing are complex.  The benefits your solutions provide can be difficult to quantify.  Your prospects want information.  A blog provides a powerful platform to provide that information.

By blogging, the water industry benefits four ways:

  • Benefit 1:   Increasing traffic to your website
  • Benefit 2:   Establishing thought leadership and building trust
  • Benefit 3:   Optimized posts moving you up the search list
  • Benefit 4:   Converting leads through Call-to-Actions

An effective company blog is a cost-effective way to raise awareness at the top of the sales funnel.  Consistently publishing quality content on your blog will position you as thought leaders in your field.  It keeps you top of mind with your clients.

The trick, of course, is to post informative and interesting content consistently.  Next week’s post is all about blog planning, and how to develop a production schedule that will keep your blog on track.

What benefits do you reap from your company blog?

If your team is already working to capacity delivering quality services to your clients, how do you manage to produce and consistently deliver a quality blog?  WATER COPY can help!  I provide blog writing services that will keep your content machine running smoothly.  Contact me to discuss your blogging needs.

CONTACT A BETTER BLOG WRITER

 

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Is your case study candidate the Hero of your success story?

case study candidate

Introduction

Is your case study candidate a real hero?

When crafting your next case study into a compelling success story, be sure to pick the right ‘hero’.   A critical part of a successful case study is selecting the right customer.  You want someone who is happily using your product, but they also need to be able to talk about how your product solved their problem.case study candidate

Then, after you pick your hero, you need to get the best story you can.  That involves an interview.  By being organized will make the whole process a breeze.

In this post, we consider how to find your hero and then how to interview that hero.

The Hero

Who is a Hero?

It is important to find a case study candidate that qualifies as a hero for your success story.  You want a smart business leader who identified a challenge or just a better way to solve a problem.  Someone who checked out the different options and picked your solution.  So, you want someone who:

  • has in-depth product knowledge;
  • experienced remarkable or even unexpected results;
  • has a recognizable brand name; and/or
  • switched from a competitor’s product to yours.

Your hero should know your product or service well.  That product knowledge will come through during the interview.

Where is your Hero?

How do you find your hero?  You can find people who are already talking about your product or you can start by canvassing customers.

Find people who already love your product/service.

Check with your sales and service teams.  They hear directly from clients and customers and may know of specific customers that had outstanding results and are happy to talk about it.

Check on review sites on the internet.  Your customers may be posting reviews of your products.  Customers may be talking about you on social media sites.

Send out emails to list of customers

Customers on your email list are another source of potential candidates.

When using email for reach out to case study candidates, you need to follow a few simple rules:

  • Keep your first, introductory email short and to the point. Suggest a time and date to chat further but no specific details.
  • Mention them by name in the email. Don’t send out generic emails; make it personal.
  • Include your own name, too. Let them know who they are dealing with.
  • Be complimentary. Boost their ego and make them feel special for being asked to participate. It may make them more likely to agree to participate.
  • Attach the questions you’d like to ask. This will help them decide whether they want to work with you on your success story.

Will the Hero participate?

You may need to convince your hero to participate.  Emphasize the benefits of being the hero.  You could offer a monetary incentive, but this tends to come off as a bit dubious.  Convince your hero that participating in a case study is really about free publicity and thought leadership.

Your case study candidate should understand that being part of this success story is a win-win situation.  You get to tell your good news story and it gets the hero’s company and its actions out on your channels as well as theirs.

Is the Hero right for the job?

Once you have a short list of case study candidates you need to decide which hero is right for the job.  Conduct a brief interview with each candidate and ask these three questions to reveal all:

  1. Tell me about your company.
  2. Which of our products do you use?
  3. What benefits have you gotten from our products?

You want someone you will give you complete answers.  They may even volunteer information.

Avoid those who give vague, and/or short, answers.  If they can’t define that benefits they have enjoyed, move on.  While chatting try to make sure your hero is going to be easy to work.  You will be connecting with them several times over the course of the project.

Let the runners-up down easy

After you decide on the hero for your success story, be sure to let the runners-up down easy.  Let them know that you appreciate their time, but their story is not in line with current marketing strategies.  You may want to use their story in future.

The Interview

Once you have your hero, you need to get their story.  The interview is crucial.  Be ready, and get the hero ready as well.

The time

This is important.  Your hero is busy.  Don’t waste their time playing phone tag.  Contact the case study candidate and schedule a convenient time for the interview.  Also, don’t waste time during the interview.  It should take less than an hour.

The interview will also go much smoother if, when you schedule the interview, you also send them the questionnaire.

The questionnaire

Sending your case study candidate a copy of the questions serves a number of purposes.  Possibly the most important reason to use a questionnaire is that it makes it that much easier to keep the interview on track.

Keep the questions in the same order as the case study:

  1. About/Background – company, industry, candidate (title and role in company).
  2. Challenge – what challenge were they facing that made them start looking for a new solution.
  3. Solution – how did they a solution and why did they pick you.
  4. Results – what benefits did our solution provide; how did you measure the impact (hard or soft metrics).
  5. Future steps – how the solution will continue to provide benefits into the future.

Since the customer has had a chance to consider the questions, you should be able to draw out details of benefits that were maybe unexpected.  Listen carefully and ask for details of key features and benefits of your solution that really resonated with the customer.

The person

Now this may seem obvious but be sure to interview a real, live person.  A case study based on testimonial videos and notes from the sales team won’t come across as an engaging success story.  You want to be able to draw out details that the customer hadn’t anticipated, just by listening and interacting with a real person.

The record

Whenever possible, and only with the customer’s consent, you should record the interview.  This allows you to focus on the interview and not worry so much about note-taking.  You won’t have to go back to the customer to clarify things you didn’t write down.

Conclusion

Your case study candidate should be the hero of your success story.  By picking the right hero and interviewing effectively, your case study will almost write itself.

Next week’s post will look at how to effectively present your case study and the data that proves the results, your solution.

 

Are you so busy making a difference to your clients that you don’t have time to tell your good news stories?  Have you solved a wastewater problem for a client, a community, a country? Then get that story out there!  Let the world know how your company solves problems and makes a difference.

That’s where WATER COPY comes in.  I research and write top quality science-based ‘good news stories’. (Click here to see more details about my skills and experience).

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.

CONTACT ME

 

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5 Blocks to Build a Successful Case Study

Introduction

In the water industry, trust is everything.  Building trust with your customers and prospects is critical to improving leads and sales.  And for building trust, case studies are unbeatable. case study writing

Unfortunately, case studies about water industry products and services are often dense, difficult to read, and, frankly, a bit dull.  Used to convey complex technical information about a solution to someone’s problem.  Written to a strict formula. No pizzazz.

If you want your case study to resonate with your audience, bring in leads, or close a sale, you need to present it as a success story.  A compelling story of how your solution solved a client’s problem.

In this post we look at the 5 key parts to a case study and how to turn your case study into a compelling success story.

But first, consider your audience

As with any piece of content it is important to know your audience.  The goal of a case study is to build trust, in your product, in your brand.  After your ideal customer reads you case study, you want them to feel that:

  • you are experienced in the industry;
  • you understand their industry’s specific needs; and
  • you know how to get industry-targeted results.

To do that you need to know your audience.

And consider the ‘skimmers’

With so much content out there, many of us have become ‘skimmers’.  Skimming headlines and section headings to see if the content is relevant to our needs.  For these readers you should include an executive summary.  A mini-headline serves to capture attention and then, in a couple of sentences, or better yet dot points, summarize the case.  Highlight the relevant aspects that made it a success story.

5 building blocks for a successful case study

Tell your case study as a success story.  Stories have a beginning, where the hero is faced with a challenge.  Stories have a middle, where a solution is presented.  And they have an end, where the results of the solution provide benefits to the hero.

All case studies follow the same progression.  There are 5 basic blocks needed to build a successful case study:

  1. The Customer (Hero) block
  2. The Challenge block
  3. The Solution block
  4. The Results block
  5. The Future block

Let’s break down each part and see how the facts and details of your case study can be crafted into a success story.

Block 1:              The Customer

This first block is like the prologue to a novel.  This is where you set the scene for your story.  Tell us about:

  • the featured Customer and what do they do;
  • what the Customer wants; and
  • what the Customer needs.

Describe the Customer in terms of their being an industry leader and innovator who found creative ways to solve a business problem using your product, of course.

Remember, although it was your product or service that saved the day, the Customer is always the Hero of your success story.  Always treat your product as a supporting character.

Block 2:              The Challenge

In the Challenge section you describe the obstacles the customer was facing before your solution.  It is important to provide the context right up front.  The key here is to make the challenge universal.  Explain how the customer’s business challenge sits within the water industry.  You want your readers to be able to relate to the hero’s (your customer’s) problem.

Block 3:              The Solution

Here in the middle of the success story comes The Solution.  This is where the hero, your customer, decides to implement a solution to their Challenge.

Take your readers on a journey as the hero searches for a solution.  Explain how your solution compares to any others on the market.  And, of course, your solution proves to be the one that can save the day.

In this section you explain:

  • how your customer found you;
  • how and why they picked your Solution; and
  • how the Solution was rolled out.

Be sure to highlight specific features that appealed to that customer.

You can also provide details of the implementation of the solution.  However, if there were major complications with this stage, conveniently leave that out.

Block 4:              The Results

The Results section is where the data and technical details come in.  This is where you provide proof that your product solved the problem presented in the challenge section.  Charts and graphs describe the data visually.  This not only helps your reader understand your solution, but also breaks up blocks of texts.

Use data relevant to the story.  Summarize large data sets where appropriate and use colors in graphs to highlight trends.

Then describe the benefits of your solution.  Hard numbers are always better, like: ‘boosted revenue by 63%’ but soft benefits, like ‘saved time’ can also work.

Block 5:              Into the Future

As with an epilogue to a novel, this section is often missing from case studies. But describing the customer’s use of your solution in the future can be powerful in generating trust.  Tell how your products will be an essential part of their operations moving forward.

You should explain how your support services provide benefits over the long term.  It demonstrates your commitment to your customers on-going success.

One more thing…

In the water industry, the impacts of your solutions can roll out over time.  Positive business and environmental impacts take time to develop.  Consider keeping up with your customers and chronicle how your solutions continue to provide benefits.  This lets readers see that your goal is not only to help with immediate needs, but also to ensure long term results

This is particularly effective in the water industry as your solutions often provide benefits beyond your immediate customer.  Managing water resources sustainably provides benefits to the community and the environment.  Tell that story, too.

Conclusion

For your case study to resonate with your audience, bring in leads, or close a sale, you need to present it as a success story.  A compelling story of how your solution solved a client’s problem.

In this post we looked at the key building blocks to a successful case study.  And how to turn your case study into a compelling success story.

Come back next week to find out how to find the perfect case study ‘hero ‘and how to interview them.

 

Are you so busy making a difference to your clients that you don’t have time to tell your good news stories?  Have you solved a wastewater problem for a client, a community, a country? Then get that story out there!  Let the world know how your company solves problems and makes a difference.

That’s where WATER COPY comes in.  I research and write top quality science-based ‘good news stories’. (Click here to see more details about my skills and experience).

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.

CONTACT ME

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FREE DOWNLOAD: A useful plain language checklist

plain language

FREE DOWNLOAD: A useful plain language checklist

Is your content ‘talking’ to your audience?

plain languageThe whole point of marketing is to start a one-on-one conversation between two people.  Ultimately a conversation between your sales person and their business manager.

Your product is complex and technical.  That’s fine.  But if your content is hard to understand the conversation may never get started.  You need to simplify the language in your content to make your complex, technical product understandable.

Download this useful checklist and keep it handy for when you write your next white paper, case study or blog post.  Make your content more easily understood. More believable. More persuasive.

 

Download Your Free Checklist

 

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Five simple steps to start the conversation (Part 5)

readability

We have found an emotionally compelling idea, adopted an easy-to-read style, and kept it concise and to the point.  We have made it skim-able by adding headings and lists. The last step is to complete your structure work.  This week Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye.

Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye

Readers can be intimidated by long blocks of text.  Making content easy to read in a visual sense will make it easier for the reader to understand your key message.

You can soothe the reader’s eye by using white space. Use adequate margins and space between sections. Keep paragraphs short.  The lists we discussed last week help break up text and provide relief to the eye as well as enhancing its skim-ability.

Visual tools can help explain your content.

  • Infographics provide a clear visual representation of data, relationships, or ideas.
  • Tables can help comparisons and show relationships without using a lot of text.
  • Lists group similar items. Numbered lists are ideal for items that are sequenced or ranked; other lists may be bulleted.
  • Other visual tools include inserts, charts, maps, and checklists.

Make sure the tool you use matches your content and the needs of your audience. You can’t explain everything with a pie chart!

Conclusion

In this series we have seen how plain language improves understanding.  Understanding leads to trust, and ultimately to action from your prospect.  Take these 5 simples steps to start the conversation:

  1. Find one compelling idea.
  2. Use an easy-to-read style.
  3. Keep it concise and to the point.
  4. Make it skim-able
  5. Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye.

 

To keep these simple steps in mind while writing, download and print the handy checklist:

Checklist 5 Simple Steps to Start the Conversation

Download Your Free Checklist

 

Contact Water Copy for all your content writing requirements.

CONTACT ME

 

 

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