written by
Dayana Mayfield

Content Marketing Brief Template, Tools & Tips

Content Collaboration 10 min read

Making a content marketing brief template is a smart idea.

Unless of course, you want to receive work from content collaborators that miss the mark and require major edits. 🤔

Assuming you’d rather aim on the side of proactive and clear management, then you need to brief your team.

In this post, we dive into what goes into great content marketing briefs and how to set up your own template. Plus, we show you plenty of examples.

What’s in this guide:

What is a content marketing brief?

A content marketing brief is a (preferably digital) document that clarifies expectations for an entire content marketing campaign, or an individual piece of content, like an email or a blog post. It contains everything that the creators and implementers need to execute on the content correctly, and stay in line with marketing goals.

Who creates and receives content marketing briefs?

Typically, a content marketing manager is in charge of creating briefs. Depending on the size and complexity of your content team, you might have one content manager in charge of making briefs, or you might have a content director, a copywriter, and a content manager who collaborate on important briefs for big campaigns.

The recipient of the brief is usually the creator. For an email, that would be a copywriter. For a blog post, that would be a content writer. But content marketing spans all sorts of channels and deliverables, so a brief could also be received by a technical implementer like a marketing automation specialist, who might be in charge of properly triggering an email sequence after its been written.

How to create briefs for content marketing campaigns

It’s smart to make a content marketing project brief template that your team can use again and again.

Depending on the depth, length, and breadth of the campaign, a campaign brief could be 5 to 50 pages long. For example, a brief for a topic cluster might include a one-page brief for 10 different SEO topics.

What to include in campaign briefs:

Regardless of the type of campaign, you should aim to include all of these things in your template.

While this might seem like a lot, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Remember: multiple people will be working on the campaign. In order to keep the messaging consistent, it can help to first brief a writer on some important copy, get that copy approved and written, and then add it to your campaign brief.

Other implementers can repurpose already-approved copy for their various channels and deliverables.

Here’s what to include:

  • Campaign theme
  • Campaign name
  • Campaign description
  • Approved campaign elements (individual pieces of content within the campaign)
  • Approved campaign sample copy for landing pages, social media posts, and emails
  • Target audience
  • Collaborators involved in the campaign
  • Goals for leads for the overall campaign
  • Goals for leads or views or reads for individual pieces of content within the campaign
  • Tools involved in the campaign

How to create briefs for blog posts

61% of B2B marketers have increased their annual amount of blog and article writing, so it’s no wonder that blog posts remain the most common type of content marketing brief template.

Many B2B companies strive to publish at least one blog post per week, and some of the top companies release one blog post per day. The demand for content means that B2B companies are often partnering with freelance writers for half or more of their written content needs.

Even when working with in-house writers, briefing can help clarify requirements, but for freelance writers, a detailed brief is a must. That’s because freelance writers might not know much about your internal expectations for content, the purpose of the content, or what keyphrase you want to target.

What to include in blog post briefs:

The more time you spend creating a detailed blog post brief, the fewer edits the blog will require.

Create a blog post template, so that you only have to make changes for that specific blog post.

Essential things to include:

  • Target keyphrase (if any)
  • Who will be bylining the blog
  • The working title or concept of the blog
  • Important details or topics to include
  • Whether or not the writer is expected to provide images or image concepts
  • The target minimum word count
  • The expected due date
  • Whether or not the writer needs to send an outline for approval before writing

Optional things to include:

  • A starting outline
  • Secondary keyphrases / relevant terms
  • Example or competitor content you want to include
  • Relevant internal URLs you want the writer to link to
  • Relevant existing images the writer can use (or where to find existing approved images)
  • Any statistics or research you want the writer to include, or a minimum number of statistics to include in each article to add credibility

How to integrate briefing into your content process with StoryChief

For the most effective briefing, you should add content briefs into your overall content creation process.

Here’s how to incorporate briefing in your content production:

  • Customize the brief template however you want to inside of StoryChief. This template will pop up whenever you add a brief to a new story.
  • Then, create a new story and give it a working title. The writer can change this later if you want them to.
  • Next, you can add details to the brief for your new post.
  • You can assign the brief to the correct writer on your team. They will receive an email notification, and can login and start writing.

The writer will then see these details on the righthand side of their screen, and they can close the brief when they’re ready. But it will automatically appear on the right, so there’s no missing it!

When you’ve assigned something, you’ll also see it in your dashboard. Check out “All stories” to find your published and draft stories. You’ll be able to see which collaborators are part of that story.

This will help remind you which stories have been assigned and which haven’t yet.

Bonus tips for effective briefing

Great content briefs are all about clarity. Here are even more tips to help you succeed.

Don’t expect to put everything in a brief (have writer guidelines too)

Not everything is supposed to go in a brief. Some things are better off in your writing guidelines.

For example, your tone of voice, the process for submitting content, where to source images from, and what noninclusive language to avoid are all best put in your writing guidelines.

More examples:

Provide specific examples whenever possible

If you have a specific vision for a piece of content, help guide the writer in achieving this vision. Show examples of content that you like, and content that you want to beat in Google results. If you’re working with a new writer, you might even share a piece of content that you don’t like. Whenever you’re sharing examples, be sure to pinpoint what you want to call attention to, so the writer is clear about what makes it a good or bad example.

Clarify secondary keyphrase research and inclusion

While many freelance writers are skilled at SEO writing, most are not experienced in SEO research. It’s important to provide the target keyphrase and secondary keyphrases, so you’re not expecting them to do this on their own.

What’s more, freelance writers might not have a subscription to SEO software to check what you’re already ranking for. If you have a lot of existing blog content, they might unknowingly double on keyphrases that you already have content for.

When you work with writers that are experts in their fields but aren’t that experienced with SEO StoryChief for instance helps them by providing clear tips on how they can adapt their writing.

SEO Copywriting Assistant

Include the overall purpose, goal, and next-step CTA in your brief

When most people think of a content marketing brief, they’re thinking of blog content, which is the most common type of marketing content.

However, it’s important to make a brief for all sorts of content, including virtual events.

Virtual event manager for Drift, Janna Erickson, explains:

“I collaborate with our head of content and a copywriter to create a very detailed event brief. The inspiration might come from a new product launch or an industry topic we want to get ahead of. We get our CMO to review the brief and sign off on it. After that, the brief can go to all of the implementers. This way, there are only 3 to 4 people involved in the brief process, so there aren’t too many cooks in the kitchen. Everyone else gets involved in implementation after many key details have been ironed out and approved.

The best tools for content marketing briefs [with examples]

Let’s take a deeper look at your options for technology that can help you brief your content creators. Plus, we’ve got content marketing brief examples.

StoryChief

You can create a brief inside of your content operations software, like StoryChief.

This will allow you to manage briefing, writing, feedback, publication, and promotion in one place.

StoryChief is a content operations platform that lets you collaborate on content, publish it, and promote it across all of your channels.

Pros of using StoryChief for content briefs:

  • Brief writer where the writing happens
  • Bird’s eye view into who is collaborating on what, and content progress
  • Content feedback, approvals, and collaboration with multiple writers
  • Ability to publish and schedule approved content to your CMS
  • Ability to promote content on social media, your email newsletter, and other channels

Cons of using StoryChief for content briefs:

  • Not intended for non-blog content, but can be used for press releases, case studies, podcast episode pages, YouTube video sharing on your blog, etc.

Google Docs

If you’re still blogging in Google Docs (not recommended), you can also use that tool to brief your content writers.

When you’re working with an inexperienced SEO writer—or if there is a blog post whose outline you want to control—it’s wise to go ahead and give the writer the outline, rather than expect them to read your mind.

Here’s an example brief with an outline:

Is Google Docs right for you? If you’re looking to optimize your content marketing processes as a team, the answer is probably not.

Pros of using Google Docs for content briefs:

  • Blog where the writing happens (if your team writes in Google Docs)
  • Can be used for any type of brief (video, ad creative, etc.)

Cons of using Google Docs for content briefs:

  • Can’t publish to your CMS
  • Doesn’t help you manage content promotion
  • Doesn’t offer a bird’s eye view into content progress

Asana

Asana can also be used for briefing content collaborators.

Mainly a project management tool, it’s commonly used by marketing teams.

While Asana is a great tool for general project management, it’s not the best for content operations because it can’t help you write, publish or promote your content.

Pros of using Google Docs for content briefs:

  • Can be used for any type of brief (video, ad creative, etc.)
  • Can be used to manage projects

Cons of using Google Docs for content briefs:

  • Doesn’t allow you to brief where the writing happens
  • Doesn’t allow you to easily hop in on the content (you have to click and find the links and resources)
  • No content publication features
  • No content promotion features

Key takeaways

Creating content marketing briefs is essential for keeping all collaborators on the same page. If you use one central content tool to make these briefs you get extra benefits, including transparent assignments, easy feedback processes, faster publication speeds, and better execution on content promotion.

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