Studies (usually done by scientists) and case studies (usually done by marketers) are often taken too seriously. Especially with the latter, it should serve as a guideline, at most. All too often, it’s taken as gospel instead.
- Some studies are designed to get media attention
- Most studies show no results when replicated
- Many case studies are completely made up
- Even when not made up, most of the activity and results are omitted
- And in a very rare case when everything is true, all the steps are laid out and there’s nothing left to hide, that particular case study worked for that particular company, in those particular circumstances, at that particular point in time. It’s impossible to even replicate the process.
So, are case studies useless then?
No, absolutely not.
Study them, think about the reasons behind the actions, get closer to the principles (e.g., how to increase trust) rather than hacks, tricks and tactics (e.g., use “Norton” badge on checkout).
With enough practice of your own, combined with many different case studies, you’ll understand the principles better and start seeing the patterns and real reasons behind the shiny numbers.
According to a study, that’s the most effective way to use case studies.
PS. Do you want an interesting study? A real one. In 2003, there was a study to determine “whether parachutes are effective in preventing major trauma related to gravitational challenge”. In short – to see if parachutes are effective in preventing death when falling. The study was titled Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials. And do you know what was the conclusion? That there’s no proof that parachutes work! Why? Because it was never tested. “The effectiveness of parachutes has not been subjected to rigorous evaluation by using randomised controlled trials.”