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Insert the words case study into your subject line and most online readers will snap to attention. White papers may get a yawn, but a case study promises real-life solutions and insider tips on how it all really works.

We're not talking Harvard Business School, although the HBS case study approach has revolutionized business education. Short case studies fashioned as marketing vehicles can be surprisingly effective.

So what is the formula for a case study that packs a punch but is digestible enough to appeal to an online reader?

- organize your information with sign posts
- reveal real business pain
- include specific, quantifiable results.

Whether it's the lead article in your e-newsletter or featured content on your site, a well-written case study should:

- build suspense
- have a satisfying conclusion
- solve a generalizable business problem (make money or save money)

If the objective is to showcase your organization's capabilities, it may also propel the reader into the first step of the buying process for your product or service.

Compelling Content
In other words, good content isn't just fun to read. It should set in motion a sequence of visitor thoughts and actions that ultimately lead to a sale.

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Debbie Weil is an online marketing and corporate blogging consultant based in Washington, DC. She blogs at www.DebbieWeil.com and www.BlogWriteForCEOs.com. Visit her main site at www.WordBiz.com.