Case studies can be helpful for the client and for SEO when they are done right.
Tim: So one of my strategies is to do case studies, which would be good data, if I could include that. It’s not something that I’ve built my business practice around, getting exact numbers from a client before I start – at the beginning stages of working with them.
Tim: You know, analyzing that data after twelve months or something like that. Have you worked with clients to do something like that? Do you have any strategies on how to gather data like that?
David: Yeah. So I have a great case study and I’ve never executed it. But the reason I have a good case study is because I started day one with analytics. So, I have clean data from the moment I started working with it until today. I can show ebbs and flows, and I can see the trend overall, over the last probably eight years I’ve worked with them. I can show how much things grew over that time, and I know exactly what I did to know what affected things and stuff like that.
So the first step to producing a good case study is to start collecting data from day one. That is a side benefit of being able to provide the client with good data, which will keep them around because they see the value that you’re giving them.
David: So the analytics data is going to be the best data you can have.
David: And you could anonymize it so that no one knows who this is.
Tim: Right. Yeah. And getting their permission if it’s something like that. That makes sense with the analytics and when it comes to a website, but if I’m working with somebody to rebrand their business and get on that path. I guess we’d be looking at what their annual revenue would be at that point and comparing that to their growth a year or two down the road.
David: Well, I think that’s a great question to ask during the branding process. What is the goal of rebranding? Right?
David: Establishing a metric for which you’re aiming, so they can measure the success of it, and you can too.
David: So, what are several reasons why someone would brand. Right? We want to appear more professional and we want to increase the quality of our leads, not just the quantity. Okay. We might be able to quantify that. Right? We want to not be regional anymore. We want to be more nationally focused. Okay. We can quantify that by traffic from outside of our area, and that could be seen in Linux. But I think that would be a great part of the process. You know, what is the goal of the brand? And once you have an agreed-upon benchmark of what that goal is, then you can start using that to collect data to show whether it worked.
Tim: Yeah, to incorporate that more specifically is something we obviously discuss and talk about, but officially making a record of that, I think would be good practice so I can build these with data.
David: Yeah. Case studies are scary to me.
David: I know I work hard for my clients. I know I’m making more money than they’re giving me because that’s the whole point. But it’s always scary for me to look at myself and evaluate myself because I connect (this is where we get into my own psychology), I connect my own self-worth so tightly to what I do, that if I see anything turn south, I feel terrible about myself. And that’s why I hate doing case studies.
Tim: But you’d probably be really happy with your results.
David: I would, but I’m also pessimistic enough to say I don’t think that. Obviously, they’re great. My clients rarely leave, they stick around for years, and that must say something about the fact that they really like working with me and they must find value. But I still have that impostor syndrome in my head. Remember how consistent they are in paying and how many years they’ve been with me, and I’m always thinking they’re going to fire me next month.
Tim: Yeah, that impostor syndrome is really real.
Tricia: Yes it is. Yes, it is! I want to do some case studies as well. I’ve been going over a few things for my monthly management for Google My Business, but especially for the fix-it services for the Google Business profile. I just have a hard time, it’s hard to… I don’t know. I’m not too sure what I’m trying to say. But you know, a lot of times it’s like businesses if they get their account suspended, and they can’t do anything. They call and say traffic is gone down, we’re not getting calls, and we need to get it fixed. And then I fix it and it’s back and then I’m wondering how did that in real numbers impact the business? But I don’t necessarily have exact figures because they typically aren’t going to tell me that. And some, I do white label, so I can’t mention the names. And even if I did, I almost don’t want somebody to go look at it later because who knows what the client did afterward. I’ve fixed it now, but they can undo everything I did. So that’s my biggest thing about wanting to do case studies. Because I’ve got lots of good ones, but I don’t know.
David: I wonder if there are different levels of case studies?
David: Right? Like, the goal is: this is a client of mine, I have made them so much money. You should hire me so I can make you so much money, too. That’s what we all want. But I, and frankly this just reflects more on the industry, I don’t want to mention my clients’ names.
Tricia: Yes. That’s kind of me as well. I’m with you. I have a hard time with that.
David: I can talk about their industry. And I know the data that I’m producing is right. But I don’t want it to be independently verifiable
David: But I’ve heard there are ways around it. For example, contact me and I will not only tell you who this client is, but I will let you talk to them and they can be a reference. One of my most successful clients I always use as a reference, obviously. And he’ll often say hey, did they hire you? Right? He wants me to succeed because he wants me to stay in business so he can continue to use my services. And that’s just very nice. I know that if I ever call him for a reference, he will be happy to do that for me. But I don’t just give him out to strangers.
Tricia: Yeah. And that’s kind of the thing for me. I’ll mention the industry and maybe the city – if it’s a big city – like lawn care in metro Atlanta. Well, there’s a gazillion of them. So, I might mention that, but that’s really all I want to mention.
David: But there’s another level in which the case study benefits you as a business owner, in that if you work with a client to produce a case study, they’re going to see and get really excited about what you’ve been able to accomplish for them as well.
David: And that can make someone loyal to you for life.
David: Right? But that’s the gold standard of a case study. And I think there’s a separate secondary case study, which is still valuable, which is just simply: Here’s a client that did this, I did that, and this is the result. This isn’t a case study as much as it is like, here’s something I learned about how search works, or local works, or something. It’s like, here’s a client whose traffic went down to zero because they got their Google My Business listing banned. They started at this point, in six months they went to zero, we weren’t able to do it this month, but at this time, instantly in a month, we got it all back. Like, what a great piece of data that isn’t necessarily a case study, but it’s almost like “here’s how we did it, and you can do it too,” which is a very shareable thing. Because case studies are very self-aggrandizing, that’s why people kind of don’t trust them. But you can do something like “here is something I did that worked and it might help you work,” and people will share it and use it. And even though you’re giving away the farm for free, there’s a lot of value in that free and you’re going to get business from people saying, “oh, I don’t have time to do this, you just do it for me.”
David: Right? I think we’ve all seen that experience where people contact us saying, “I don’t have time. Just you do it.” Right?
David: Absolutely. I’m more than happy to take your money for that.
Tim: Yeah. There’s a client of mine that had me design pdfs of her case studies and put them on her website, and hers are very basic, non-monetary, there’s no association to value as far as what was increased, but she states the problem, she states what the objective was, what she did, what the end result was, and what the benefit was. She just states it like that. I think that would probably work for your situation. You could even name the company Acme Parts or something like that, Acme Lawns, or something like that, and just reference them and make it very conversational. Like, “could you imagine losing up to thirty-four calls a month because you’ve lost your listing or you’re blacklisted, or whatever.”
Tricia: Yeah, yeah. And I’m wondering if I kind of get stuck in my mind saying case study? I think I need to think of it in a different way and do it that way.
David: Yeah, don’t underestimate the value of free. Right? If it’s a case study, it is an advertisement and people inherently aren’t going to trust it.
Tricia: Yeah, right. I need to call it something different.
David: Yeah. If you do something like, “I’m going to show you how I overcame this problem for this client, and I’m going to show you the graphs and the data to show you what happened.” Now, it becomes something inherently shareable, more objective because it’s not self-aggrandizing. I did something like that with Curious Ants with link building. I forget what I called the article. Something about link building is not dead. But you know, the whole topic of link building is a great topic. I love it. And every once in a while someone says, “oh, link building is dead. It doesn’t work…”
Tricia: Yeah. I heard that on something the other day, where somebody said that link building is not dead.
David: Right. No, it never dies, just like SEO is never going to die.
Tricia: But you have to do it right.
David: Yeah. Well, exactly. That’s the thing – bad link building is dead.
Tricia: Bad link building will get your site banned!
David: Well, yeah. But that’s what I wanted to show. And I got a client one heck of a link. Like, it was the gold standard of link building, everything the spammiest link builder dreams about and hopes, but it will never ever get. I got that link. I went in and I pulled all this data and I showed that we got one link, and look at what happened to this client! Everything skyrocketed. But obviously, I didn’t mention the client’s name. I didn’t present it as a case study. I presented it as, I’m here to show you link building’s not dead, you still need to do link building. Here’s an extreme example of getting something really good link-wise and all the benefits they got. But this isn’t to say you need to get this best, amazing link as I got. But it says proof of concept. If I can get one, really, really, really good link, what if I got a few? These are pretty good links. It’s still proof of concept. Yeah and that’s the way I presented it. I could have phrased it as a case study: “You should hire me, because I can solve your problem and I can help do link building for you the right way. I can help you get all these benefits.” But I didn’t present it as a case study, I presented it as an object lesson about a thing that I do. And because it’s on Curious Ants, the answer is, by the way, if you want to learn to do link building like this, that’s what Curious Ants is teaching.
Tricia: Right. I think that’s kind of what I need to do. That type of thing and not a case study and not a case study format.
David: Yeah. And I think for you, especially, Tricia, that works really well because you’re a white labeler. So you can say, hey, do you have a problem like this? Here’s how you fix it, or you call me. That’s just such an easy way and people will be grateful for that call to action and just do it. Oh, I don’t want to read this whole article, I’m just going to call.
That was the other point I was going to make. We talk about using Google Analytics as a benchmark to do this and having that set up from day one. But, this is another value of the monthly report. Right. So in a Game Plan, one of the steps is to set up a monthly report for each of your clients. And having that automatically delivered to them, every month, hopefully, does a couple of things. Number one, it shows your client that things are moving and they’re getting something for their money because the report is all about what kind of customer acquisition did you get. So we’re sending them a monthly reminder that they made customers as a result. Two, the second purpose of the report is to make us go why did they get those things and we have to delve a little bit deeper to see what worked so we can do it again. That is the kind of stuff that can produce really great content for our website Right? Hey, this last month, I tried this. Holy mackerel did it work! Look at this. Or last month, I did that. Oops! Look at the terrible thing that happened. Don’t do that. But what I learned is this. Right? That’s kind of what the article I just published was about. But that is one of the values of it. My old boss used to say, “The clients are really paying for the report. Our job is to make sure the report goes well.” But in a way, they’re kind of just paying for their report. And because we have pride in what we do, we want to make sure that report grows and is doing better for our clients. But because we could just set up a report and charge them for it and not do anything and that really wouldn’t be a lot of value.
David: But that monthly report can hopefully help you start to find these ideas for case studies. Because you can see what’s working, what’s not, and what’s unique about this situation that makes this work and not that, and that can really kind of produce some great ideas, that will not only help you with great case studies but also help you improve, because one of the values of working with several clients that we have over some who works in-house, at some company doing SEO. is that we get to see what works on other websites and apply those lessons to out clients, too. Right? That’s the advantage we have over working in-house somewhere only on one business.