Customer success stories can be a great tool for online marketers. Each one is an opportunity to celebrate the success of a client, as well as your contribution to their ability to meet their business goals. It’s a good way to help businesses reinforce their credibility and expertise and each piece becomes part of your positive brand story.

You might choose to publish the story as a blog post, or a whitepaper on your website. Wherever it is physically housed, the customer success story must be optimized for search engines and readers to make it discoverable, and also for social network users to make it shareable.

Before beginning a customer success story, it’s critical to have the permission and buy-in of the customer you’ll feature. Some companies choose to “sweeten the pot” for clients or customers, by offering a discount of some kind in exchange for their participation in a client success story or case study. Involve the customer in the planning and creation of the story to ensure they have a vested interest in its promotion, as well.

What does a good customer success story look like? Ideally, yours will have the following components, at a minimum:

  • An explanation of the challenge or pain point facing the customer
  • A description of your company’s solution
  • The business benefits or measurable outcomes achieved

For example, Dell recently shared the success story of Ipanema Technologies, who used Dell KACE system management appliances to simplify its IT asset management. As a result, they were able to reduce the amount of time spent on inventories. That is a great business outcome that may inspire other companies to use the solution. Creating an online story around this success provides content for other potential buyers to consider while making their own buying decisions and can even help expose the brand to new audiences.

We published the success story as a downloadable, print-friendly PDF and a simple one-page online summary for social and email sharing.

Dell Customer Success Story as a PDF - Ipanema Technologies

The shorter summary story is great for attracting new potential customers, who may discover the story through their social network or web search results. It offers the highlights of the story in a few short paragraphs, with a link to the longer study for more information.

The longer form success story allows room for additional quotes from the customer, attractive graphics and a lengthier explanation of the process. This type of resource is perfect for a potential customer who might be in the decision-making phase of their buying cycle.

How can you make your customer success stories stand out and more importantly, stand on their own as shareable, optimized pieces of content? Follow these best practices:

  • Use images or video, where appropriate. When used on a webpage and properly optimized with a descriptive title and meta description, these content items can help make your success story more easily findable by readers using search engines. 
  • Keep your writing tight and your copy only as long as necessary to convey the story of how your brand helped the customer achieve their goals.
  • Format your customer success story for online reading, with short paragraphs, bullet point lists to highlight statistics or important data points, and call-out boxes to emphasize quotes or specific results.
  • House your customer success stories on the channel best suited for social sharing and search visibility, ie.: your corporate blog or website.

The various text, image and video elements of your customer success story can all be used in the social promotion of the content. For example, the image can also be uploaded to a photo site like Flickr and link back to the customer success story. Hosting the video on a site like YouTube makes it discoverable by people searching that site for information about your company or industry, as well.

Have you used customer success stories as part of your content strategy? Share your experience in the comments!