Last week I told you all about the campaign report you should be sending to blog sponsors that will impress the pants off of them (I even made a report template for you to download, for free!) Have you started using it yet? Well, if you want ANOTHER way to impress brands and encourage them to work with you even more, then a blog case study is what you need next.
What’s a case study?
Case studies are used in the business world all of the time. Agencies, freelancers, and brands alike will create a case study to showcase their past work. A case study will include a summary of the objective, what was done for the campaign, and the results achieved.
Here’s a public example of a case study created by blogger network NuffnangUK. While it doesn’t include concrete stats (they probably provide those to brands interested in working with them) it’s a great example of a case study that involves bloggers.
Why should bloggers have case studies?
If you want to grow your blog and monetise it, you need to run it like a business, and successful businesses use their past projects as proof of their ability to deliver results, which helps to validate them and helps more potential clients to want to work with them. You can do that too– with your own case study.
If you can show potential sponsors that you’ve executed successful campaigns in the past, they won’t feel like they’re taking a chance on you with their precious marketing budget, and therefore will be more likely to say YES to working together.
Not sure how to make a case study? I’ll help ya…
Also, I can’t believe I’m doing this, but there’s a special treat for those of you who read all of the way till the end. If you’re going to embark on your first case study, you’ll want to see this…
How to create a case study for your blog
Step 1: Choose a successful project from your past work to highlight
If you’ve worked with a brand on a project, say, a sponsored post or social media campaign, that can be used for your case study. If you haven’t worked with a brand yet, there are a couple of things you can do. You can highlight a success you’ve achieved through affiliate marketing, or you can use a project that you created yourself, such as a post series.
For The Abroad Guide, while we’ve worked with multiple brands in the past, the first case study that I ever created was with some of the results of my affiliate marketing campaigns. Through the reporting feature of the Amazon Affiliate program, I was able to attribute over $2000 in camera and camera accessory sales in 6 months to one of our blog posts. Showing that my readers make purchases from my recommendations is POWERFUL, and brands LOVE that.
Step 2: Create a summary for the project
Start off with a bit of background on the project. How did it come about? Did the brand contact you asking for ideas on how you could support this project? Is it something that you saw a need for in your market, so you just created the opportunity for yourself? Give a quick overview of how it all began.
Step 3: Talk about the campaign elements
Ok, time to really get into it. Here’s what I mean by campaign elements:
Campaign objective (aka goal) – what was the goal of this project? Was it to increase sales? Was it to increase brand awareness? Or to send traffic to an external site?
Campaign strategy – how did you plan to achieve the objective? Perhaps through a blog post, social media activity, etc.
Summary of activity – in the end, what was produced in order to meet the objective? Include social media activity, blog content, videos, etc.
Step 4: Show off the results
This is the fun part! Go on and toot your horn, it’s a must in a case study.
Results need to be reported in numbers, so gather all of the stats that will help you prove that your activity supported the campaign objective.
What you should include in your results will vary depending on the type of campaign it is. Think about what the objective was and the stats that align with that. For example, if the goal was to send traffic to an external site, how many clicks did the activity generate? If the objective was the increase brand awareness with your readership, then impressions and reach will be two great stats to include.
Don’t be afraid to include secondary statistics, like social media engagement rate or number of comments on a blog post. Even if they don’t coincide with the main objective, it still helps to include positive numbers and shows added value for the brand.
Step 5: Add screenshots
People love screenshots! Include at least one or two screenshots that prove that the results you’ve reported are correct. Include circles and arrows so that someone who’s reading your case study knows what they should be looking at right away.
Depending on the campaign, it may also be a good idea to include screenshots of some of the activity that performed particularly well, such as a Facebook post with lots of engagement.
Step 6: Analyze the results
BLEH— I HATE the word “analyze” don’t you? It makes me think back to my history papers, ugh.
Anyway, when I say to analyze the results, I want you to explain what the results you just reported mean. Include a 2-4 sentence summary for this. Ultimately, it should be telling the reader how you know that the campaign was a success due to the data you mentioned above.
*Note that each case study will be different, as all campaigns are unique, so if something mentioned above doesn’t seem applicable to the campaign you’re highlighting, that’s ok, just skip it! On the other hand, you may think of something to add that I didn’t cover.
Step 7: Add testimonials
There are two parts to this. First, if you’re creating a case study that involves a brand you worked with, you need to ask their permission to use their brand name in the case study. Some brands will say no, some won’t mind. If they say no, instead of using the brand name, call them something generic like “the brand” and in the summary give a general description of what they do without giving away which brand it is.
If they say yes, also ask to include a testimonial from the point of contact for the project. This will be a powerful addition to your case study!
*When asking a brand if you can include their name in the case study, sweeten the deal by saying that when the case study is complete that you’ll be happy to share it with them so that they can circulate to their clients/key people in the business. Since you’re kind of doing their job for them, you’re more likely to get a “yes”.
Step 7: Make it look nice + add your branding
I made the camera case study for The Abroad Guide in Canva, so that I could add my branding and make it look fancy-pantsy. You could also just make it in Word, add your logo at the top, and as long as it looks clean and professional, that’s fine too. Be sure to turn it into a PDF, and then you’re ready to show it off to potential sponsors.
So, now that we’ve gone through all of that, here’s the part I’m a bit nervous about…
I’m going to let you download my actual, not-for-public consumption case study. No numbers removed, nothing changed… this is the exact one I let brands look at.
Am I nuts? Perhaps. But I’m the type of person who needs something tangible in front of me to be able to envision it, so I’m doing this for everyone who’s just like me…
Click the button below to download a PDF copy of my camera case study for The Abroad Guide.