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Case Study Format Types: Match Format with Business Goals

Explore the different case study format types and their unique strengths & weaknesses. Learn what to consider in our in-depth guide.

Dominika Krukowska

9 minute read

Case study format types
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Short answer

What are the best case study formats?

4 best case study format types:

  1. Problem-solution case study
  2. Before-and-after case study
  3. Success story case study
  4. Interview style case study

Choosing the wrong case study format will fail to achieve your business goals.

The power of case studies lies not in the quality of information they provide but in how they're delivered.

You've put in a ton of work – collected the data, gathered customer testimonials, and analyzed the results, so why trip over at the finish line?

Failing in the delivery can mean most of your effort will go to waste.

The challenge lies in packaging your case study in a way that doesn't present dry facts but tells a compelling story from a credible source (preferably someone your reader sees as their peer).

This post will help you find the right case study format that matches your business goals, so you can deliver captivating stories that engage your audience, build trust, and drive results.

Let’s dive in!

How to choose the best case study format?

Choosing the right case study format isn’t a game of luck, but rather a strategic decision. The format you choose will dictate the flow of your narrative and ultimately, its reception and the impact it creates.

4 aspects to consider when choosing your case study format:

1. Identify your objective

Start by identifying what you aim to achieve with your case study.

Are you looking to demonstrate the effectiveness of your product? Or, maybe you're seeking to showcase a customer’s journey and transformation.

Your objectives will steer you toward a format that best communicates your intended message.

2. Understand your audience

Who are you writing for? Tech-savvy young professionals might appreciate a data-rich, problem-solution case study, while creative entrepreneurs may connect more with an inspiring success story.

Knowing your audience helps you to craft a case study that resonates with them.

3. Contextualize your case

What is the background of your case study? A before-and-after case study might be suitable if your product or service led to a significant transformation, while an interview-style case study works well when the customer's personal journey or experience is especially impactful.

4. Consider the storytelling element

Ultimately, your case study is a story – and a good story needs a captivating plot.

Choose a format that allows you to weave an engaging narrative. Whether it's the drama of problem-solving or the thrill of a success story, your case study should be as compelling as it is informative.

Our recommended story framework:

How to write a presentation storyline that creates interest

What are the main case study building blocks?

Creating a compelling case study is about crafting a narrative, not stitching together a sequence of events.

Your narrative must highlight the effectiveness of your product or service by telling a story of intrigue, transformation, and success.

7 building blocks of a compelling case study:

  1. Introduction slide: The gateway to your narrative. Use this to provide context, briefly introduce the subject, and hint at the compelling story to follow.

  2. Company overview slide: Shed light on the company, individual, or situation at the heart of your case study. This helps to paint a full picture for your readers.

  3. Challenge/Problem slide: Bring forward the hurdle or issue that your case study's subject faced. This sets up the conflict that your solution will resolve.

  4. Solution slide: Describe the solution that was implemented. Make it clear how your product or service was applied to tackle the issue at hand.

  5. Results/Outcome slide: Showcase the impact of the solution, ideally backed by hard-hitting data. This is where you highlight the effectiveness of your product or service.

  6. Customer quotes/Testimonials slide: Authentic words from the people who have benefitted from your product or service can provide a persuasive, humanizing touch to your case study.

  7. Call to action slide: Prompt readers to take the next step, whether that's contacting your company, trying your product, or simply learning more.

What are the main business case study writing formats?

Case studies are composed to strike a chord with your audience. But to truly create a melody that resonates, you need to choose the right note - or in this case, the right format.

Here are the 4 main case study writing formats:

1. Problem-solution case study

Think of the problem-solution case study as an epic saga, where your client acts as the hero. It’s the story of how they overcame a great obstacle, becoming better and stronger in the process with the aid of your company’s solution.

By positioning your company as their trusted guide and confidant, you become the Obi-Wan to their Luke, providing guidance and support throughout their journey. This makes it ideal for attracting potential clients or showcasing business adaptability.

Problem-solution format:

  • Introduce the client company and their unique situation
  • Describe their problem in their words
  • Describe the steps taken to solve the problem (your solution)
  • Discuss key results and achievements with quantifiable data
  • Explain the overall business impact in the client's words
  • Provide a compelling conclusion inviting the reader to achieve similar results with your business

See this example by Amazon Web Services demonstrating how they supported Chick-fil-A in developing an AI framework to identify and address food safety risks.

And, here’s a ready-made template built according to this structure:

2. Before-and-after case study

A before-and-after case study brings out the transformative power of your product or service. It starts by painting a picture of what things looked like before your solution was implemented.

It then describes the implementation process and shows what things look like after.

This case study format appeals to visual learners and can be an especially impactful way to boost sales and customer conversion rates.

Before-and-after format:

  • Paint a picture of the company's situation before your intervention
  • Discuss the transformation in detail highlighting the significant results and improvements with data and visuals
  • Explain the difference your solution made
  • Conclude by reinforcing the transformative power of your product or service

A great example is IBM’s case study illustrating Carhartt's transformation into a fully digital business.

3. Success story case study

A success story case study tells the story of how a customer succeeded using your product or service.

It starts with a description of the company and its goals, explains how your product or service was used to achieve those goals, and ends with an evaluation of the results.

This format is perfect for emotionally engaging the audience, showing potential customers how they might achieve similar results and reinforcing your brand image.

Success story format:

  • Introduce your contact person (the main character)
  • Describe what drove them to seek your solution with emotional language
  • Introduce your team (as their guide), use names to make them relatable
  • Describe your team’s attempt (as individual people) to address the client’s needs
  • Describe your joint journey attempting to resolve their issues (with its ups and downs)
  • Describe the moment when you knew you’ve succeeded reaching your destination
  • End with an empathic invitation to make contact like “struggling with something similar? Talk to us.”

An example of this is Hotjar’s case study of Brand24 showcasing how Hotjar helped them increase conversions in an easy flowing story that’s easy and fun to read.

4. Interview style case study

An interview-style case study brings authenticity to the table. Letting satisfied clients do the talking generates trust and shows your product or service as used by actual clients.

This format is ideal for personalizing your brand and nurturing potential customer relations.

An example of this is KineMatik’s case study presenting how Marine Atlantic helped them centralize and standardize their project delivery.

Interview style format:

  • Introduce the interviewee and their company
  • Provide the context or background of their challenges
  • Present the interviewee's account of how your product or service helped address their challenges
  • Highlight key takeaways and results from the interviewee's perspective
  • Conclude with an invitation to the reader to experience similar results

You can watch the case study here:

KineMatik’s interview format case study example

What are the main case study delivery formats?

While crafting a persuasive and impactful case study is essential, how you deliver that content to your audience is equally important.

3 main case study delivery formats:

1. Written case study

Written case studies have long been the go-to choice. They come in the form of static documents such as PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, Word docs, and emails. This makes them relatively easy to create.

But, as they rely only on text and images to tell a story, they may not always capture attention, engage, or evoke a deep emotional response from your readers.

An example can be Adobe’s case study detailing the role they played in Lenovo’s digital transformation.

2. Video case study

Videos breathe life into your case studies. Mainly used for testimonials or interview-type case studies, they can also portray regular case studies in a dynamic format.

Videos add a human touch to your content and engage audiences on an emotional level. They are especially effective in demonstrating the impact of your product or service in real-life settings.

A great example of this is Amazon Web Services’s video case study on how they helped Zalando improve the online shopping experience.

You can watch the case study here:

video case study delivery format

3. Multimedia case study

As attention spans shrink and digital noise grows, it’s imperative to offer an interactive, engaging alternative to static formats.

Multimedia case studies, like those created with Storydoc or as landing pages, blend text, images, videos, and interactive elements to provide a sticky content experience.

The interactive format transforms your case studies into immersive experiences, holds your audience's attention longer, and helps your message resonate.

It also allows you to control the pace and order of information, leading to a deeper understanding of your case study.

Here’s a great example of a multimedia case study:

All 3 delivery formats can serve you well. Just remember, the choice of format should align with your business goals and audience preferences.

Written formats can still be the right choice for detailed communication. At the same time, video and multimedia formats can capture interest and drive engagement in ways that traditional written content cannot.

How do you create a case study format for marketing success?

Step 1: Uncover a tale of success

The first step in creating a case study format that resonates is identifying a success story worth sharing. Look for a customer who has achieved remarkable results with your product or service.

Their journey will serve as a powerful testament to the value you provide.

Step 2: Connect with the customer

Reach out to the customer and initiate a conversation. Express your interest in featuring their success story as a case study. Build rapport and ensure their willingness to participate.

Cultivating a collaborative relationship lays the foundation for a compelling narrative.

Step 3: Dive into the story

Conduct an insightful case study interview to uncover the details behind their success.

Ask open-ended questions that delve into the challenges they faced, the solutions they sought, and the outcomes they achieved.

This step allows you to capture their experiences authentically and gather the necessary information for a compelling case study.

Step 4: Weave the narrative

Begin by structuring the story in a way that engages readers from start to finish. Outline the customer's challenges, the innovative solutions you provided, and the measurable results they experienced.

Use a storytelling approach to make the case study relatable, highlighting the transformation your customer underwent with your assistance.

Step 5: Distribute your case study

A case study's true impact lies in its visibility. Promote your case study across various channels to maximize its reach.

Share it on your website, company blog, and social media platforms. Leverage email marketing to distribute it to your subscriber base with a similar customer profile.

Consider collaborating with industry publications or partners to increase its exposure.

By actively promoting your case study, you ensure that it reaches the right audience and generates the desired marketing success.

Grab any template - create your best case study to date

Now that you know how to choose the right case study format, it’s time to get down to work.

Grab one of our case study templates and cut down the time and effort needed to make a great case study to a fraction of what your company is used to.

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Dominika Krukowska

Hi, I'm Dominika, Content Specialist at Storydoc. As a creative professional with experience in fashion, I'm here to show you how to amplify your brand message through the power of storytelling and eye-catching visuals.

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