Tutorial: How to repurpose a case study

How to repurpose a case study

Case studies are perfect assets to add to your content repurposing strategy. They are rich in product detail and allow readers imagine themselves in the shoes of a successful customer.

By clearly defining the key characteristics of the Subject, the problem, solution, and outcome of the engagement, a prospective customer can extrapolate the experience of working with your company to their own needs and use cases.

When it comes to repurposing marketing content, you have to determine a target channel, format, and audience. These three parameters will probably be slightly (or drastically) different from the original asset. For example, your case study might be part of a lead generation campaign as a gated PDF for CIOs or an open webpage as part of a brand awareness campaign for IT managers. No matter what type of format the case study is in and who is in the intended audience, there are always ways to repurpose it for different channels, in new formats, and for a modified audience.

Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a typical case study and an example of how to extract content to repurpose for multiple channels.

The anatomy of a case study

Case studies can vary in format, length, and context but the majority of them follow a fairly predictable pattern. This creates a great repurposing opportunity whenever a marketing asset follows a common structure.

Most case studies start with a headline and a quick summary for readers who may not want to consume the entire study but still want to understand the key takeaways.

The most common feature of most case studies is the Subject. This might be a customer, client, or any company or individual that is the subject of the study. In some cases, the Subject may not be explicitly named, but the general characteristics of the company or individual is always provided so the reader can understand if the specific use case applies to them.

Finally, we typically see a description of the problem, the solution, and the resulting outcome. Wrap it up with a quick summary of the above and you have a case study.

With a good understanding of the basic structure of a standard case study, let’s look at how we can extract content to repurpose and publish on new channels to a new audience to get the most mileage out of this valuable piece of content.

Steps to repurpose a case study

The steps to repurpose a case study consis of four main objectives. First, we’ll try to best understand the nuances of the target audience who will likely consume the repurposed content on the chosen channels.

Second, we need to define which channels the repurposed content will be distributed on. 

Next, and this is related to the previous objective, we need to determine the repurposed formats. Video? Long form text? Infographics? Short social posts? Every channel has an ideal format type and the repurposed content should adhere to those best practices.

Finally, we’ll uncover shareable standalone content and the key takeaways from the case study that will form the basis of the repurposed content.

We are asking the following questions:

  1. Who do I want to reach with repurposed content based on this case study?
  2. Where (what channel) does this audience consume content?
  3. What content format do these channels require?
  4. What standalone content and key takeaways can I extract to match the target format, audience, and channel?

Notice that we aren’t asking, “who do we want to read our case study?” This is not the objective. We are asking, “who do we want to consume repurposed content based on our case study.

The correct question to ask when determining your target audience is, "Who do we want to consume repurposed content based on our case study?"

If your case study is behind a gate as part of a lead generation program, then great. You can leave it there. You may still want to use the key results as native social content or as part of an email marketing campaign. Just because you provide insight into the content of the case study outside of its initial format, the case study as part of your lead generation program does not lose value. In some cases, it may even draw more people further down the funnel.

Define the audience: Who is the content for and what stage of the funnel are they in?

This is the most important step of repurposing any piece of marketing content. The critical important question to ask is whether or not the audience that is meant to consume the original content, a case study in this case, or is it a different audience.

How do we define an audience?

This is a complex question and can depend on multiple factors including buyer/not buyer, the stage of the funnel they are in, job seniority, department, company size, industry, geography, and many more parameters.

When considering a case study, the most interesting audience segmentation is the stage of the buying funnel. Case studies often sit towards the bottom of the funnel when readers are looking for a very specific solution and ready to purchase. It’s uncommon that someone will casually consume a case study they come across on social media without an existing intent to learn more about that solution.

Since the case study is already servicing the bottom of the funnel audience, let’s focus on repurposing the asset for the top of the funnel audience as part of a brand awareness, demand generation, or an SEO initiative.

Repurposing bottom of the funnel assets like case studies to top of the funnel assets like SEO articles and social posts is a great way to implement a content repurposing strategy.

Of course there’s also the opportunity to repurpose a case study into mid-funnel content like email marketing and other bottom of the funnel content like Ebooks and videos.

Target audience: Top of the funnel content consumers in our target market, with the potential to buy in the future. In other words, people who will eventually be seeking out the original case study.

Define the target channels: Where does your target audience consume content?

Now that we know our target audience, we need to define the channels we can reach them at the stage of the buying journey they can be found. This might be through email marketing, social media, paid social, or SEO. For example, we could repurpose the case study as a blog post based on the key themes and findings. We could also generate a series of LinkedIn or Twitter posts that feature the key themes and findings of the case study. 

This messaging will find the audience where they are naturally consuming content, whether they are searching for it or not. They might be searching for information about the general topics of the case study, but not necessarily ready to buy. If you can provide answers to their questions with a blog post, then that is a win from a brand awareness perspective.

If you can generate native social content that resonates with problems they may be experiencing and add real value within the content of the post, that is also added value that was derived from the case study and consumed outside the confines of the actual document. 

Target Channels: Native social media posts and SEO.

Define the target formats: What type of content does your target audience consume on the target channel?

With the target audience and channels nailed down, it’s time to figure out what the actual content will look like. Since we are considering two target channels, native social and SEO, we’ll consider them separately. The formats of these two channels are very different. Even within native social content there are a variety of formats depending on which social networks we are focusing on. 

For the SEO channel, the format is straightforward as a blog post. The convenient part of repurposing a case study as a blog post is that the structure of most blog posts is very similar to the structure of a case study with the section titles easily transferred as the main headings of the article. 

However, as we’ll discuss in the next section, we can’t always convert all of the case study content into a blog post as-is without considering the audience. Bottom of the funnel content like case studies focuses heavily on the product or solution and customer use cases. This isn’t the best way to structure top of the funnel content like a blog post for SEO campaigns.

For example, a case study might be how a national university implemented a specific solution offered by a cybersecurity company to prevent phishing attacks at all of its campuses. This is extremely specific, involving a specific product that stops phishing attacks, and details around how the solution was implemented for this customer. Not great content for a high level blog post.

However, there is content in a case study like this that can be used to create a blog post with titles like these:

  • How to prevent phishing attacks
  • The challenge of securing networks for colleges with distributed campuses
  • Cybersecurity challenges in higher education

Note: None of these are the exact topics of the case study, but the case study can be used as the primary source of information to write all of these articles. 

The situation is slightly different for social media channels. There are more opportunities to directly use the content in the case study, unlike in the case for the repurposed blog where we extracted important themes and worked around them. For social, your brand can benefit, even for top of the funnel messaging, by mentioning specific companies you are working with and some key takeaways. On the other hand, if the level of detail is still shallow, a casual but relevant audience won’t be overwhelmed by too much information that they are not ready for.

Target formats: General long form topical content for an article or short form summaries for native social content on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Identify standalone content and key takeaways

Depending on the target audience for the repurposed content, you will need to identify one of two types of content.

  1. Direct excerpts and summaries with key takeaways from the case study
  2. Thematic insights based on the topic of the case study for a more general audience

Once you identify which of these two options is most appropriate for your audience and channel, it’s time to dig into the actual content of the case study to pull out any relevant quotes, excerpts, and key findings to include in the repurposed content. 

The key thing to realize here is that the research is done. Most blog or social posts require at least a little bit of research to add meaningful value. You’ve been handed a research report with valuable and relevant data, and it’s your job to translate the findings for the appropriate audience.

You've been handed a research report with valuable and relevant data, and it’s your job to translate the findings for the appropriate audience.

Example: CyberArk case study with CDW

Cybersecurity is an industry that relies heavily on case studies and customer success stories. 

CyberArk’s case study featuring CDW, “CDW Enhances Security and Compliance Internally and for its Customers with PAM”, is a great example of how they clearly define:

  • Subject: CDW, a managed service provider (MSP)
  • Problem: CDW struggled managing internal and client authentication credentials
  • Solution: CyberArk’s privileged access management solution (PAM)
  • Result: CDW reduced the time required to change passwords and they now meet all auditing requirements.

Repurposed SEO-optimized article

For this repurposing task, we are going to repurpose the case study for a top of the funnel audience (less product detail) to be consumed as a blog post.

The overarching themes can be extracted from each section of the case study:

  • Problem section: Large MSPs struggle with password and credential management. There are many audit and compliance requirements to keep in mind when handling both internal and external credentials.
  • Solution Section: PAM solutions can help managed service providers spin up credentials for their clients faster and more securely. Important password and credential practices include properly storing, rotating, and provisioning user passwords. It’s important to be able to demonstrate to security auditors that appropriate controls are in place to manage user credentials.
  • Results section: Automation reduces the time to change and provision user passwords. With a flexible credential storage system, it’s possible to support growing business needs. By having appropriate user policies, organizations can have proper separation of duties and have the ability to narrow down forensic details if a breach occurs. These are all important aspects required to pass standard security audits.

Now that we have the main (generic) points for each section, we can build an outline for a blog post based on the basic themes of the case study. Notice that we are not mentioning any specific products or customers, but using the information to write a post about things we know are important to prospective customers.

Here’s an example article outline based on the above analysis:

  • How privileged access management (PAM) can help growing managed service providers
    • What is privileged access management (PAM)
    • Why is PAM important for managed service providers
      • Managed service providers are de facto IT departments
      • Credential flexibility is crucial to handle custom client solutions
    • What are common security challenges with large organizations
      • Speed of provisioning and changing credentials
      • Challenging security audits
      • Separation of duties across credentials
    • Key Takeaways

This blog outline shares the same themes as the case study, but provides little detail into the specifics of CyberArk’s PAM solution, CDW’s specific challenges in their managed service offering, or what specific benefits CDW gained from the relationship. Instead, it aims to describe the problem/solution generally for an audience that may be slightly higher up the funnel than the consumers of the full case study.

Repurposed Social posts

Social posts have a bit more flexibility when it comes to whether or not we include specific details about the customer, product, and results. The great part about repurposing a case study as social posts, is that we don’t have to create just one piece of content. We can create a series of posts that touch both on the specifics of the case study as well as the general themes like we extracted for the blog post in the previous section.

Example LinkedIn post (detail specific)

Having a reliable Privileged Access Management (PAM) strategy in place is critical for growing managed service providers (MSP) like CDW.

With more and more clients on-boarded every month, the time to provision, change, and manage client credentials with customized technology requirements creates logistic and compliance challenges.

Luckily, CyberArk’s PAM solution helps MSPs like CDW automate credential provisioning and helps them ace security audits with ease.

Example LinkedIn post (generalized)

Managing hundreds or thousands of clients as a managed service provider (MSP) creates an incredible amount of complexity when you need to provision and change client credentials.

Every client has unique technology specifications, and it’s challenging to accommodate their needs in a timely and compliant manner.

A solid privileged access management (PAM) system can help automate the process of managing credentials across 1,000’s of clients and get you through required security audits so you can focus on the important value your service offers.

Key Takeaways

Case studies are some of the most valuable marketing assets that your company has. 

What’s better than a detailed description of how your product or solution solves an important problem for a customer?

Whenever a prospective customer can imagine themselves as an active customer, that’s one step further to gaining them as a customer.

There are a few key points to consider when repurposing a case study for other purposes. First, keep in mind your target audience of the repurposed content and what stage of the buyer/awareness funnel they might be. Second, consider the channels that are most appropriate for your target to consume this content. Third, define what formats are most suitable for this audience and channel. And lastly, try to extract the appropriate type of content, whether it’s detail-rich or higher level, from the case study to use for another purposes.