Lori's Blog

Case Studies, Success Stories, Testimonials and Reviews - What's the Difference?

customer success storytelling
business people achieving their goal

Think about the actions you take as you research and choose a product or service online. If part of your process includes reading about the experiences of other people, then you’re not alone. In the B2B world, case studies are the most effective content to convert and move prospects along on their buying journey. (Demand Gen) And in the consumer world, 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. (Search Engine Land)

Publishing proof that you’ll do what you say you can do should be in your content strategy. To get started, learn about the difference between case studies, success stories, testimonials and reviews.

Reviews - Voluntary Customer Comments

Reviews can be found on third party platforms, like Google and Facebook, or right on a website like Amazon or other e-commerce sites. Reviews are an important piece of your online reputation and contribute ranking signals to search engines.

If the reviews are on a third-party site, your business doesn’t have control over the comments. You should be monitoring what people say about you online and respond to comments – both positive and negative. If reviews are popular in your industry, you should create a process for asking for reviews.

Testimonials – Solicited Customer Comments

The difference between reviews and testimonials is that your organization has control over the process. You’re the one who gathers and publishes customer comments on your website and through your social media posts, email and other digital channels.

You can get testimonials through interviews with customers and edit what they say into bite-sized comments. People are usually happy when you help them organize their thoughts. It’s important to not put words in their mouths, and have an approval process in place before publishing anything in your customer’s name.

Customer Success Story – Illustration of Customer Experience

The terms “success story”, “client story”, and “case study” are often used interchangeably but a “story” is different from a “study”. In a success story, the client experience is described starting with the problem that the client needed to solve and moves through the solution and the outcome.

People respond physiologically to a story that includes a problem, challenge or distress, so the result of this kind of story is empathy, or shared feelings and thoughts. Interviews for customer success stories can do double duty and provide material for great testimonials.

Case Studies – In-depth Customer Experience

Case study and client or customer success story are sometimes used interchangeable. A case study includes the context, problem and solution that the customer experienced but can go into more detail about what the company did to implement the solution.

Case studies can be more technical that success stories, but they’re not necessarily better depending upon who you’re trying to influence. For example, a CEO probably doesn’t want to know all the details but wants to know how the outcome is going to affect business results, while an engineer wants to understand the technology or methods that make the solution work.

It’s About Trust and Credibility

If you are presenting and promoting your business online, then you absolutely need content that will nurture trust and build credibility. People want to be confident in their buying decisions, and you’ll help them get that when you show and tell how you helped other people through customer studies, stories, testimonials and reviews.

Need help creating case studies, success stories and testimonials? Contact me for a consultation.

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