The expert guide to creating great content briefs

20 November 2023
11 minutes

In short

  • In a world where the demand for quality content is higher than ever, a content brief can help you create content that achieves your business goals, connects with your target audience, builds trust and authority for your brand, ranks well in search engines, and drives traffic to your website.
  • A content brief is a document that provides editorial direction for creating content, outlining the purpose, audience, tone, angle, structure, keywords, and length of a piece of content.
  • Content briefs can help brands ensure a consistent level of quality, save time and money, prevent rewrites and revisions, and scale content production.
  • Learn how to create an effective content brief in this step-by-step guide, including an example template.

What is a content brief?

Have you ever received a piece of content that doesn’t match your goals, campaign, or brand?

You’re not alone.

In today’s content-driven world, marketing leaders are under increasing pressure to deliver more and better content on a tighter budget. To meet this challenge, it’s essential to have a well-defined content strategy and a process for creating and managing content.

That’s where the content brief comes in.

Definition of a content brief

A content brief is a document that provides writers and other content creators with all the information they need to produce high-quality content that meets specific goals. It’s a roadmap that guides the content creation process from start to finish, ensuring that every piece of content is aligned with your organisation’s overall content marketing strategy.

A content brief typically includes the following elements:

  • Content goals: What do you want to achieve with this piece of content? Do you want to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or drive sales?
  • Target audience: Who are you writing for? What are their needs and interests?
  • Content tone and style: What kind of tone and style do you want the content to have? Should it be informative, persuasive, or entertaining?
  • Content angle: What are the key messages you want to convey in the content?
  • Content outline: A high-level overview of the structure and content of the piece.
  • Keywords: A list of relevant keywords to use in the content.
  • Word count: The desired length of the content piece.

The importance of a content brief in content creation and management

Did you know that 82.7% of content marketers work with a content brief?

This isn’t surprising because if you take the time to write good content briefs, you can make your content creation process faster and more effective while also making sure that all your content matches your overall content plan.

Content briefs play a vital role in content creation and management for several reasons:

  • They ensure the consistency of quality: Content briefs help to ensure that all content produced is consistent in terms of quality, tone, and style. This is especially important for organisations that produce a large volume of content or that have multiple content creators.
  • They save time and money: Content briefs reduce the need for rework and revisions. When a content creator has a clear understanding of the task at hand, they’re usually able to produce content that meets the organisation’s needs on the first try.
  • They help to scale content production: As content marketing teams grow and become more complex, content briefs become increasingly important for scaling content production. By providing a clear and consistent framework for content creation, content briefs can help ensure that content quality remains high.
Infographic about the use of content briefings in content marketing

Benefits of using a content brief

A content brief is essential for creating high-quality content. It helps to ensure that everyone involved in the content creation process is aligned with the goals and expectations for the project, which brings several benefits:

Improved organisation and direction in content creation

A well-written content brief will clearly define the purpose of the content, the target audience, and the key messages that need to be communicated. This helps to ensure that everyone involved in the content creation process is on the same page and working towards the same goal.

Efficient communication between content creators and stakeholders

A content brief can help reduce the amount of back-and-forth communication between content creators and stakeholders. By providing clear and concise instructions upfront, content briefs can help reduce the amount of time that needs to be spent on revisions and edits at the back end of the content creation process.

Increased consistency and quality in content production

According to Semrush, 44% of content marketers said that improving the quality and value of their content has led to success. Content briefs help to ensure that all pieces of content are produced to a consistent standard of quality. By providing clear guidelines on things like tone, style, and formatting, content briefs help to ensure that all content is aligned with your brand voice and style guide.

Curious to learn how Contentoo can help you improve the value of your content? Download our Trustmoore case study and see how we helped them build a reputation as industry thought leaders!

Infogrpahic about the succes content marketing

How to create an effective content brief

Now that you know all the benefits of a content brief, you may be wondering: How do you create a brief? And what should you include?

In our experience as a content partner to some of the world’s fastest-growing brands, the best content briefs give your content creator a clear and simple plan to follow, so they know what to write, who you’re writing for, and what message you want to convey.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when creating content briefs, but here are some of the key components to consider:

Target audience analysis

Your writer needs to know what makes your audience tick, including their interests and day-to-day challenges. Understanding your target audience means that you can create content that is more relevant, engaging, and likely to reach its intended goal.

Here are some questions to consider when conducting a target audience analysis:

  • What are the demographics of your target audience (e.g., age, gender, location, education, and income)?
  • What are their psychographics (e.g., interests, values, lifestyle)?
  • What are their pain points and challenges?
  • What are their goals and aspirations?
  • What kind of content do they already consume?

Top tip: Include your buyer persona(s) in the content brief.

a photo of a woman discussing the content objectives and goals

Content objectives and goals

What do you want to achieve with this piece of content? Do you want to increase brand awareness, generate leads, drive traffic to your website, or educate your audience? What do you want your audience to learn, do, or feel after consuming it?

Answering these questions will give you a solid foundation for creating a content objective that’s aligned with your content marketing goals and resonates with your target audience.

Keyword research and SEO considerations

If you want your content to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs), you need to do keyword research and get your writer to incorporate relevant keywords into your content in a natural and engaging way.

Use a general keyword research tool like Ahrefs or Semrush to discover new keywords, their search volume, and different variations of search queries used by your target audience. Every content brief you create should include the main keyword that you’re trying to rank for.

For example, if you’re trying to rank for the query “how to choose the right running shoes”, you should include relevant keywords like “running shoes,” “best running shoes,” and “types of running shoes” throughout the post.

Secondary keywords

In addition to your primary keyword, you may also want to include some secondary keywords in your content. Secondary keywords are related to your primary keyword, but they are less competitive and have a lower search volume. Using secondary keywords can help you reach a wider audience and improve your overall SEO performance.

Content tone, style, and voice guidelines

The tone, style, and voice of your content should be consistent with your brand identity. Do you want your content to be formal or informal? Serious or light-hearted? Technical or jargon-free?

You don’t have to choose one tone for all of your content. You can mix and match tones depending on the purpose of the content and the channel where you’re publishing it. For example, you might use a conversational tone in your blog posts and a more authoritative tone in your white papers.

Content structure and formatting guidelines

By providing your writers with a comprehensive editorial style guide, you can help them create content that is accurate, consistent, and on-brand. A style guide usually covers the following:

  • Grammar and punctuation: What are your preferred grammar and punctuation rules?
  • Formatting: What fonts, font sizes, and headings should be used? Do you use sentence case or title case for headlines?
  • Terminology: What acronyms and abbreviations are acceptable for your products or services?
  • Lists: When should you use bullet or numbered lists?

Visual requirements and references

If you’d like your writers to include visual content in their work, such as images, infographics, or videos, make sure to give them clear directions on the following:

  • The number of visuals required per article
  • How to write Alt Text to describe the visuals
  • If the visuals need to be royalty-free, plus examples of sites such as Unsplash
  • The style of visual content, e.g., do you want it to be a real-life setting or illustrated?

Calls to action (CTAs) and conversion strategies

Finally, don’t forget to include a call to action in your content brief. What do you want your readers to do after they have finished reading your content? Do you want them to schedule a demo, sign up for your newsletter, or make a purchase?

Choose the CTA based on the stage of the content marketing funnel that your readers are in:

  • Awareness stage: Your CTA should be focused on educating them and building trust. For example, you could encourage them to download a white paper or sign up for a webinar.
  • Consideration stage: As your readers are evaluating different solutions to their problem, your CTA should be focused on helping them to compare your solution to others. For example, you could encourage them to schedule a demo or get a quote.
  • Decision stage: At this stage, your readers are ready to make a purchase. That means your CTA should be clear and concise, such as directing them to buy now or start a free trial.

An example of well-executed content brief

Now that you have a good understanding of what a content brief is and what should be included in one, it’s helpful to see an example of a well-crafted content brief. Please feel free to use the example framework below as a template for your content brief.

What should a content briefing include? Blog post content brief example

A good content briefing should include the following:

Content type: e.g. blog, whitepaper, e-book.

Document format: e.g. Word or Docs.

Language: US English, UK English etc.

Key information about the company: Including products and services, history, and customer types. An elevator pitch or sales sheet is also a valuable inclusion.

Title: How to write a great content brief (you could also leave this to the writer)

Target audience: CMOs, senior marketers, heads of content, and heads of SEO who work with internal content writers or freelancers.

Goal: To teach readers how to write content briefs that are clear, concise, and informative, and that will help them get the content they need.

Primary keyword: content brief.

Secondary keywords: create brief, how to write a brief example, how to create a brief.

Tone: The content should be authoritative and informative, but also easy to read and understand.

Word count: 2000 words.

External links: Please include relevant links to external recourses.

Outline:

[H1] The expert guide to creating great content briefs

[H2] What is a content brief?

  • [H3] Definition of a content brief

[H2] Benefits of using a content brief]

  • [H3] Improved organisation and direction in content creation
  • [H3] Efficient communication between content creators and stakeholders
  • [H3] Increased consistency and quality in content production

[H2] How to create an effective content brief

  • [H3] Target audience analysis
  • [H3] Content objectives and goals
  • [H3] Keyword research and SEO considerations
  • [H3] Content tone, style, and voice guidelines
  • [H3] Content structure and formatting guidelines
  • [H3] Visual requirements and references
  • [H3] Calls to action and conversion strategies

[H2] Example of well-executed content brief

[H2] Common challenges and solutions in using content briefs

  • [H3] Addressing inconsistencies in content brief interpretation
  • [H3] Ensuring regular updates and revisions to reflect changing requirements

[CTA] Book a demo

Implementing content briefs in the content production process

Content briefs are important, but it can be tough to embrace them as part of your process, especially if you’re short on time and resources. It’s easy to think that content briefs will take too much time and effort, but there are ways to make them efficient, such as using templates, assigning roles, and setting up a review process.

a photo of a woman creating a template for consistent use of content briefs

Creating a template for the consistent use of content briefs

The first step is to create a standard template that can be used for all types of written content, such as blog posts, email newsletters, social media posts, etc. This template should be the starting point for anyone responsible for creating content briefs.

Assigning roles and responsibilities for utilising the briefs effectively

Make sure everyone knows their role in the content production process by assigning responsibilities and deadlines to the relevant stakeholders.

Typically, the content strategist, SEO specialist, or marketing manager will be responsible for creating the content briefs. The content writer will then use the brief to create the content. And finally, the editor will then review the content to ensure that it meets the requirements of the brief.

It is also important to involve other team members in the content briefing process, such as the SEO specialist, social media manager, and sales team. This will help to ensure that the content is aligned with your overall marketing goals and objectives.

Review processes to ensure adherence to the brief

Once the content has been created, it’s important to have a review process in place to make sure that it matches the brief. Ideally, you’ll want a system where the reviewer is notified once the first draft is completed.

The reviewer should check the content for accuracy, completeness, and alignment with the brief, and also make sure the tone, style, and messaging are on-brand. If the content does not meet the requirements of the brief, it should be sent back to the writer for revision.

a photo of a group of people making solutions in using briefs

Common challenges and solutions in using content briefs

Addressing inconsistencies in content brief interpretation

Even if you think your brief is clear, your content writer may not interpret it the same way. Misinterpreting a content brief can lead to writers creating content that is inaccurate, irrelevant, or worse, off-brand. That’s why it’s important to make sure that everyone involved in the project is on the same page right from the beginning.

To avoid misunderstandings, set up a communication channel with your content creator so they can ask questions directly. For longer or more complex projects, ask them to write a 100-200 word draft to ensure they are on the right track.

Ensuring regular updates and revisions to reflect changing requirements

Content briefs are not always set in stone. Plans can change, and the brief may need to be updated. For example, if you’re writing a newsletter and the feature you’re planning to announce isn’t ready yet, you may need to update the brief to reflect that.

Of course, you should tell your writer about the changes as soon as possible and explain why you’re making them. No one enjoys last-minute changes, so if the new adjustments will take longer, you should also extend the deadline if possible.

FAQ's

What is the difference between a content brief and an outline?

A content brief is a document that provides all the necessary information that a content creator needs to produce a piece of content, such as content objectives, the target audience, tone of voice, and specific requirements such as word count, keywords, and the deadline.

A content outline is a roadmap for the content creator to follow, which breaks down the content into its main topics and subtopics and is typically included in the content brief. In other words, a content brief provides the overall direction for the content, while an outline provides a more detailed blueprint for how the content should be structured.

What is the difference between a content brief and a creative brief?

A content brief is a document that provides instructions for creating a written piece of content, such as a blog post, whitepaper, or social media post.

Creative briefs typically guide the creation of visual deliverables, such as videos, landing pages, covers, and infographics.

What is the hardest thing about writing a content brief?

When creating a content brief, you want to provide enough detail and guidance for the writer to do a good job without being too restrictive. Content briefs should include all of the essential information that the writer needs but still leave room for their creativity.

Take SEO articles, for example. Content writers need to keep in mind relevant keywords and phrases to rank well in search engines, but they also need to focus on creating content that is informative, engaging, and relevant to the target audience. Sometimes it can be challenging to strike a balance between these two goals when creating the content brief.

Ready to create content that outperforms?

Now that you know how to create a killer content brief, we hope you’re feeling inspired to bring your content to the next level.

But it is still challenging to create a great content brief from scratch, click here to download our content briefing template! 

Looking for expert advice on how to build your custom-made content strategy? Find out why we’re the preferred choice for content marketing services.

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