Writing effective content is not an easy task. Customers read and interact with content across every touchpoint, so it's crucial that the content your brand creates is relevant and valuable. Content briefs empower your copywriters to deliver quality work so your business can provide a better customer experience.
A content brief is a document of instructions and resources a writer uses to produce a piece of content. It provides guidance and sets clear expectations with distinct formatting and information fields for all relevant details.
It should provide enough guidelines and parameters without being overwhelming or too constraining. The goal is to allow your copywriters some creative freedom while providing proper guardrails and information.
“Taking the time to create a thorough but concise brief is probably the single greatest investment you can make in both your work efficiency and your sanity.” (Content Marketing Institute, 2019)
Benefits of Content Briefs
Streamline the Review Process
Developing strong content briefs can minimize editing and keep the process on track. When writers receive little to no guidance, they produce drafts that require more editing. Reviewing takes time and effort, and it can quickly snowball if major changes and rewrites are needed.
With a content brief, a writer has a clear starting place. They know what to focus on and what to include in their piece. During the review process, editors can use the content brief as a rubric to make sure everything has been addressed.
Set Clear Expectations
A good content brief focuses the copywriter on the most important topics. By highlighting specific areas and requirements, content briefs give writers the best chance to create content that is accurate and useful.
This is especially important for businesses with unique processes or focus areas; writers must understand the specifics when writing about your services.
In addition to providing editorial direction, content briefs should establish clear timelines and deadlines. Drafts must often go through several revisions by different editors, marketing specialists, and sometimes additional writers. A content brief that outlines the expected timeframe for each step of the process tells everyone what is expected of them and when.
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Improve Collaboration & Accountability
Content creation involves multiple teams and stakeholders. One single piece of content may require strategists, writers, editors, SEO analysts, account managers, project managers, and designers. And with so many ways to communicate — email, chat, meetings, tickets — finding and tracking information can be difficult.
Using the content brief to list key team members and roles makes it easier for everyone to find the information they need and know who is responsible for what. Ensuring alignment from the beginning will save time throughout the content production process.
No matter the size of your content team, consistency is critical. When businesses have writers and strategists all over the world, it’s important to use content briefs and standardized guidelines so that all content follows the same editorial rules and branding.
Content briefs are also useful for smaller teams. They can help organize ideas, topics, and research to make copywriting more efficient and effective.
How to Write a Content Brief
Each project is different, and content should account for business and client nuances. However, all content briefs should include a few essential elements:
Listing out deadlines and stakeholders will help the copywriting process run smoothly and efficiently. This section should include the following items:
- Due date(s)
- Publication date
- How many hours the task(s) should take
- Names and/or contact information for the writer, editor, approver, and other relevant team members
Resources and Specifications
Without adequate background and parameters, copywriting is guesswork. This information is key to ensuring consistency and quality.
Some useful pieces of background information include:
- Product, event, or service being promoted
- Related department or business unit
- Subject matter expert(s)
- Relevant research
- Voice and tone guidelines
- Editorial guidebook
- Content type/medium
- Delivery channel(s)
- Content lifecycle stage
- Copy length
- Links to relevant products and services
This helps the writer better understand who they’re writing for so that they can tailor content to the specific audience. Consider adding the following information about the intended audience:
- Target persona(s)
- Primary goal
- Journey stage/conversion funnel
- Pain points
- Relevant trends
- Desired outcome(s)
Content Goal & Description
Before creating a piece of content, the writer must know the purpose of the piece and what it should achieve. This information helps focus the content and serve as a starting point.
Aim to include:
- Any specific features and benefits
- Core message(s)
- Topic/possible title
- Call to action (CTA)
Keywords & SEO Recommendations
It is critical to prioritize SEO so content has the best chance of ranking and being seen. An SEO analyst should identify keywords, links, and any other pertinent information so writers can incorporate that as they’re creating the content. Then, when the draft is ready, the SEO analyst can use the information provided in the brief as a checklist to ensure optimization.
Some helpful items to include:
- Primary and secondary keywords
- Page title
- Meta description
- Redirect information (if applicable)
With the proper background, resources, and guidelines outlined in a content brief, your copywriters will be well on their way to writing copy that is relevant and effective. And when done correctly, this part of the copywriting process enables you to successfully scale up your content production efforts, creating consistency and increasing efficiency.
About TA Digital
TA Digital is the only global boutique agency that delivers the “best of both worlds” to clients seeking to achieve organizational success through digital transformation. Unlike smaller, regional agencies that lack the ability to scale or large organizations that succumb to a quantity-over-quality approach, we offer resource diversity while also providing meticulous attention to the details that enable strategic success.
Over the past 20 years, TA Digital has positioned clients to achieve digital maturity by focusing on data, customer-centricity, and exponential return on investment; by melding exceptional user experience and data-driven methodologies with artificial intelligence and machine learning, we enable digital transformations that intelligently build upon the strategies we set into motion. We are known as a global leader that assists marketing and technology executives in understanding the digital ecosystem while identifying cultural and operational gaps within their business – ultimately ushering organizations toward a more mature model and profitable digital landscape.
Recognized in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2020 and 2021 Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States, TA Digital is pleased also to share high-level strategic partnerships with world class digital experience platform companies like Adobe, SAP, Acquia, commercetools, Sitecore, and Elastic Path.
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