One of the most popular terms used in the world of content marketing is the phrase “evergreen content.”
People get all excited about evergreen content because you only need to put in the work once and you reap the rewards over and over and over again for months if not years to come. Evergreen content keeps on giving, mainly because it is not time sensitive and is going to always be ‘in-date’ regardless of current trends.
This is exciting because producing good content takes time. The problem of course with evergreen content is the time is takes to come up with a concept for your blog posts that will withstand the test of time. But there’s one form of content that doesn’t take too much effort to conceptualise and will continue to produce traffic, leads and sales for the foreseeable: Case Studies!
Case studies not only add a huge level of authority to your website but are also one of those incredible ways of generating long term traffic. Let’s take a closer look at why case studies are as good as I say they are:
1. Case studies are very niche specific
The great thing about case studies is that they are never a filler. In other words, when people go to your website and read your case studies, they are clued in directly to the niche that you are covering. It’s hard for a case study to be a bit vague (if dealt with correctly of course). Case studies go into detail about your experiences of a particular activity. For example, you own a website selling the ultimate car valeting guide book and have a blog. Every month you could publish your method for perfectly cleaning particular elements of a car from the alloy wheels through to the engine bay.
It would be hard to discuss your experiences of cleaning an engine bay without talking about cleaning an engine bay and therefore car. You get the idea.
2. Case studies focus on your audiences problems
The reason why case studies are so respected and sought after in any content marketing strategy is that they are an easy way to link between yourself (and brand) and your audience. You can start your case study off with a story to draw in your audience and ensure you’re not just another brand selling stuff. A properly written case study lays out the issues and lays out principles that are applied to the issues and facts. Formatted this way, case studies are not only easy to read and follow, but it’s also very easy to extract value from them. This is why they are so powerful, popular and effective.
3. Case studies display the process
There are many different people in your audience: Some people in your audience are just looking for answers. Some people in your audience are just looking to be assured that whatever situation they are going through, somebody has experienced that as well. Many are just reassured of the stories that case studies bring to the table. However, a significant number of those people are actually looking for processes. They’re not looking for specific answers because they probably already have the answers, but they’re looking at how the answer was arrived at and why the answer is the answer.
Case studies are excellent sources for these people. Why? Case studies can be written in a process intensive way. Think of a process intensive case study like your Algebra problem sets in high school. Your teacher would always say “show your working”. Your teacher doesn’t care about the answer. Your teacher is more concerned about how you got to the answer. Case studies can walk the audience member through the process that produce an answer which leads us onto…
4. Case studies enable your site to stand out as an authority
Well-written case studies really shine. Anybody can write How-To Guides or FAQs. Anybody can compile interviews. However, case studies take a lot of work. Case studies, at the very least, require paying attention to certain common situations experienced by your audience members.
More importantly, case studies apply a deeper level of analysis so that the process is made clear and options are laid out. This level of detail and analysis help your website truly stand out as a source of authoritative content in your niche.
It goes back to the ‘show your working’ phrase again. Anyone can come up with the answer to a problem (and some will make that answer up solely to sell). If you can come up with a genuine answer and a set of processes (workings) that took you to that answer then your reputation in the niche will certainly sky rocket.
5. Case study presentations are modular and manageable
Another great factor going for a case study as a powerful example of evergreen content is the fact that it’s often formatted in a very modular way.
Since most internet users have a very short attention span, this modular presentation enables them to not just identify the answer quickly, but also wrap their minds effectively around the process that produced that answer. This enables you to present valuable information in a very modular, compact and manageable way.
6. Case study content can be easy to create
As powerful as the case study format is, you might think that it’s intimidating. You might think that it takes a lot of work to create. You might even think that it costs a lot of money to put together. The good news is that with proper tools and proper data gathering strategies, case studies can be put together quite easily.
If you cover a niche that has many established message boards and forums, you can actually base your case study on questions asked by forum members and get your answers from the responses. There are many resources like Yahoo answers that are great sources for case study elements.
The case study template
But here’s a quick template of how you could go about structuring your case studies:
The Story or Problem: The first part of your case study needs to explain what it is that you’re going to be solving. For example, if you were focussed on the grow your own niche. Your problem could be “Carrot Root Fly” a common problem when growing carrots. You would of course pad this out with your story. Explain that you’ve just started to grow carrots and so on… You could even do this story part as a reader’s question who emailed in.
The Potential Solutions: You then need to explain the potential solutions you could use. List 3, 4 or 5 ways you’re going to explore solving your issues.
The Testing: Now you’re going to put those solutions into practice and try each of them out to see what works.
The Results and Conclusion: This is the meat of your case study. You need to pick the best solution and explain why it is the best solution and also why the other solutions weren’t quite as good.
It’s a simple structure but it works. You could of course break your case study down into multiple parts that are drip fed to your readers over the course of a week or even a month depending on how in-depth you plan on going.
If you are looking to make your blog or website stand out from your competition, you might not need to look any further than the case study format. Case studies enable you to present solid information in your niche, show off your authority and also publish something that will stand the test of time and continue to generate traffic. Keep the considerations above in mind as you craft together your own particular strategy for producing case study content.
Guest Author: Lewis Crutch is the owner and main contributor to the blog at Marketing Bees that provides a range of free advice on an array of online marketing topics including SEO, social media marketing and content marketing. Follow him on Twitter @Marketing_Bees.