How to Write Powerful Anonymous Case Studies

BY Holly Yoos
October 1, 2021

How do you write an anonymous case study worth reading?

In a perfect world, every customer would let you tell the story of how you helped them succeed in a case study.

But sometimes, customers are constrained by their legal departments—or the story is just too sensitive—and so they decline to participate.

Other times, though, customers will agree to share their story as long as their name isn’t attached to it.

Which means you’ll need to learn how to anonymize a case study.

(Stop booing! It’s easier than you think, and you don’t have to lose the impact.)

In some circles, anonymous case studies are slammed as “weaker” than case studies where the client is named; the loss of the logo being treated like the loss of any value whatsoever.

While it’s true that we’d almost always choose a customer success story where the company is named, most of the shortcomings of anonymous case studies can be mitigated if you know how to tell those stories well.

And, in fact, anonymized case studies have one major advantage over non-anonymized ones (which we’ll get into below).

So without further ado, here are seven ways you can make your anonymous case studies every bit as powerful as your non-anonymous ones:

1.  Use prestige descriptors

Even though you’ll have to remove the brand or company name, you can still use prestigious descriptors, such as “A leading global consulting firm…” or “A top U.S. retailer….” or “A Fortune 100 company“ and so on.

With these descriptors, and other contextual information, you can communicate that this is a GREAT company and the results of the engagement are a BIG deal.

You can still communicate that this is a GREAT company and the results are a BIG deal.

2.  Capture in-depth quotes

Just because the case study is anonymous doesn’t mean you can’t include compelling, in-depth quotes from the people involved.

You’ll just have to swap out names for descriptive titles and make the pronouns gender-neutral.

3.  Include lots of details

Anonymity doesn’t put any limits on the details you can provide (as long as they don’t identify your customer).

You can still explore how you solved a real problem for the customer and tell a compelling story about the journey, why the customer chose you, and how you made a real difference.

Even though you don’t have the prestige of the brand, the story can still describe how you worked with the customer to deliver real ROI.

4.  Use anonymity as a shield

This is where anonymous case studies can outdo their non-anonymous cousins.

When customers know that nothing they share will be attached to them, they may be even MORE willing to disclose sensitive details and metrics.

Customers may be even MORE willing to disclose sensitive details and metrics.

In essence, an anonymous success story gives the customer the freedom to speak more plainly and openly—and often, more thoroughly, too.

And it MAY give you license to paint an even more dire picture of the situation before you came onto the scene.

5. Present it in context

You may worry that your anonymous case study will lack credibility because the customer isn’t named.

But you can mitigate those concerns by presenting the case study in the context of other case studies where customers ARE named—or even by presenting them in the context of a whole bunch of anonymous case studies if your industry is a particularly sensitive one.

Taken as a group, your anonymous case studies will have as much standing and credibility as your non-anonymized ones.

6.  Use it as a massive internal rallying tool

Anonymous case studies can still be used as massive internal rallying tools, even if the customer is never identified.

You can still show your staff a big win and describe how you delivered.

Sharing how you are doing BIG things out there can be inspirational to staff AND instructive in behavior.

It gets people thinking: “How can we make this project a big success like the previous one?” and “What has worked in the past to WOW our big clients?”

7.  Repurpose in compelling ways

Anonymous case studies can still be repurposed in a multitude of ways.

You can turn them into blog posts that cover specific areas of what you did and how it worked.

You can weave them into whitepapers and add them to slide decks.

There’s a ton of utility in being able to say, “Here’s how we solved a problem and delighted a customer”— and there are plenty of ways to share the value.

Anonymous case studies show that you prioritize customers over marketing

Having anonymous case studies shows your customers, and prospective customers, that you value your relationships with them even more than your own marketing.

You’re happy and willing to protect their identity if they so choose.

And when customers know they can trust you to have their backs—and protect their identity if needed—they’ll be more likely to say “yes” to your case study ask.

Need help creating anonymous case studies that are powerful and persuasive?

Contact us to start the conversation.

Ya, you like that? Well, there’s more where that came from!

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