4 Top Trends in Customer Stories That Can Boost Your Marketing

Customer stories are a powerful marketing tool that can help you increase sales, generate leads, and build trust with potential customers.

Below we discuss four top trends in customer stories (with input from Emily Amos and our friends at Uplift Content), and how you can use them to boost your marketing.

Trend #1: Case studies are more effective than ever

When talking about case studies or customer stories, a fundamental question that must be answered is, are they still driving prospect interest?

A recent study by Uplift Content found that case studies are, perhaps surprisingly, the number one most effective marketing tactic to increase sales. This stat is supported by Influitive’s 2022 State of Customer Marketing report, where respondents indicated case studies/success stories were the number one value driver for their businesses. 

Case studies provide necessary social proof that your product or service can deliver results. When potential customers see that other businesses have been successful with your product, they are more likely to be interested in trying it themselves. Perhaps that’s why, according to Uplift’s study, on average SaaS companies plan to produce 42% more case studies this year compared to last year. That’s powerful consensus that customer stories are still integral to marketing efforts. 

Trend #2: Stop gating content

It wasn’t that long ago that most organizations were gating content behind a form submission to capture those inbound leads. This means that potential customers often had to give up their contact information in order to read a case study or watch a video. However, this practice is becoming less and less effective. 

Today, people are bombarded with marketing messages and have a wealth of channels open to them for gathering information about your products and customer experience. Prospects are more likely to ignore gated content and continue their search for information that doesn’t require them to give you a thing, often turning to their own networks or third-party review sites. CEO & Founder of Uplift Content, Emily Amos, says, “We don't want to put barriers in front of people. This material is so powerful from a sales perspective that we don't want any friction. Just give them this content so that they can absorb it.”

Trend #3: Focus on metrics

Only 12% of SaaS marketers stated they were very satisfied with their case studies overall, compared to 18% last year, according to Uplift Content. This means there’s lots of room for improvement across the board, and one area marketers stated they wanted to improve is their metrics. When you write a case study, it’s important to focus on the metrics that matter to your business. This could include things like increased sales, reduced costs, or improved customer satisfaction. By highlighting the specific results that your customers have achieved, you can show potential customers how your product or service can benefit them. 

Obtaining those metrics, however, often proves to be a difficult task. According to Emily, “I think the biggest blocker is the software company. People need to take more time while they're onboarding their new customers to clarify goals and KPIs. Be clear about how [the customer] is going to measure it. And also record that before state (What is the benchmark? What is the current state of affairs in terms of numbers for those goals that you've already laid out?) so that three months, six months, a year down the line, you can go back and look at the new numbers for those sets of goals or KPIs. I think that's the biggest thing that doesn't happen. But it would make such a huge difference.”

Trend #4: Change up your format

There are a variety of case study formats that can be effective. While the typical case study has been written, times are changing and people are more easily drawn to visual formats. The best format for you will depend on your target audience, which channels they enjoy, and how they prefer to interact with content. Below are some new ways to format your customer stories:

  • Infographics: Infographics are a great way to visualize data and tell a story in a visually appealing way. They are also easy to share on social media and other channels.
  • Compilations: Case study compilations are a great way to showcase multiple case studies at once. They can be a helpful way to show the breadth of your customer base and the variety of problems your product or service can solve.
  • Audio case studies: Audio case studies can be a great way to reach people who are short on time and/or who prefer to consume content in audio format. They can also be a more personal way to connect with customers.
  • Video case studies: Video case studies are a more immersive way to tell a story. They can be a great way to show how your product or service works and the impact it has on customers, but they can also be more time-consuming and expensive to create than other formats. They also require more technical expertise (or outsourcing to someone with the expertise).

How to use these trends to boost your marketing

You can immediately start using these four trends to boost your marketing. Here are a few tips:

  • Make the story about the customer and their success, not your products and features. That means truly capturing the voice of your customer, the challenges they face, the way they serve their own customers and lastly, how they’ve achieved their goals in partnership with your organization. 
  • Create stories that highlight the results your customers have achieved. Paint the picture of where they were when they began and where their journey with your product has taken them, using metrics wherever possible. Remember, stats are relative unless they are anchored in the before and after. 
  • Make your case studies easy to find and access. Nothing is worse than having to dig to find the support cases for using your product or service.
  • Use a single story to create many types of story formats. For instance, film your case study interview to create video snippets, use stats captured to create a visual success infographic, or select quotes from a case study to turn into social cards. 
  • Focus on the metrics that matter to your business.

By taking note of current trends and utilizing best practices, customer stories and case studies remain one of the single most effective ways to capture the interest of prospective buyers and build trust in your offering.

And best of all for us here at Captivate, they don’t bring value just to your organization. They also shine a light on and give credit to some of your most innovative and loyal customers, making well-executed customer storytelling a true win. 

If you want to learn more on how to improve your case studies, we recommend you listen (or watch) the full Talk Advocacy to Me interview with Emily on the latest trends in customer stories. 

September 13, 2023
Captivate Collective