How to Write a Content Brief for a SaaS Blog (Survey Results + Free Template)
Out of 81 marketers surveyed, 82.7% work with a content brief. The biggest reason for writing it? It helps them stay in the right direction.
Here’s what happened…
A client hired me to write a blog post about CJ Affiliate.
It was a topic (affiliate marketing) I knew nothing about.
But thanks to the crazy detailed content brief my client provided (it was two pages!), I knew just what to do.
That’s the power of a laser-focused content brief.
Grab Your FREE Content Brief Template 👉
This is the exact template I use when working with clients in the B2B SaaS space.
Today, it’s yours.
Most of us have seen the benefits of creating a content brief (if you haven’t, we’ll get to them in a minute).
And yet, some content marketers either skip it or whip up a bare-bones brief that might as well not be created at all.
And that’s a shame, because when done well, an in-depth content brief can help your writer — yes, even one with zero domain expertise — to create an exceptional piece of content.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s look at the following results.
Survey Results: How do Content Marketers Feel About Using a Content Brief in Their Process?
The results are nothing short of surprising:
- 82.7% of content marketers work with a content brief. YES!
- 17.3% content marketers don’t work with a content brief. The biggest reason? They see no need for it.
- Top benefits of working with a content brief: Stay in the right direction (42.6%), Prevent miscommunication (35.3%), and reduce editing time (8.8%).
- Must-have elements in a content brief include: SEO keywords (85.5%), headline (75.4%), and overview/synopsis (75.4%).
82.7% of Content Marketers Work with a Content Brief
That’s a great sign. Enough said.
17.3% Content Marketers Don’t Work with a Content Brief. Why? They See No Need for It
Out of the 14 content marketers who voted “No”, 50% revealed that they skip the content brief because they see no need for it.
There’s more to it, though.
Sharon Melamed, Managing Director and Chief Content Officer at Matchboard, only creates a content brief when she’s dealing with complex topics or working with a new writer for the first time.
Often, she’d work with a headline and discuss possible angles with the writer on a phone call.
Other reasons for skipping the content brief include the lack of knowledge on creating one (14.3%), and different priorities and limited resources (35.7%).
Top Benefits of Working with a Content Brief: Stay in the Right Direction (42.6%), Prevent Miscommunication (35.3%), and Reduce Editing Time (8.8%)
From a writer’s perspective, I like working with content briefs as they help me understand the goal of the piece and stay in the right direction.
Judging by the results, it looks like I’m not the only one. 42.6% of content marketers feel the same way.
Momchil Koychev, Marketing Manager at Codegiant, shares: “It’s cool as it’s like a roadmap. You see every step of the way.”
Preventing miscommunication takes the second spot — 35.3% responded that it helps them stay on the same page with their client/writer.
8.8% credit the content brief for reducing their editing time (yay for editors!). 13.3% responded with a myriad reasons such as building a strategy and getting buy-in.
Andrea Paul, Director of Content and Research at Kustomer, adds: “It builds out a holistic strategy around a piece of content (goal, measurement, distribution), and gets buy-in from all stakeholders around strategy and timeline.”
Must-Have Elements in a Content Brief Include: SEO Keywords (85.5%), Headline (75.4%), and Overview/Synopsis (75.4%)
Other elements include: Outline, tone, and reports from SEO tools like Clearscope and Ahrefs.
And this concludes the survey!
Overall, the results confirmed everything I know to be true.
Let’s now move on to the 10+ step-by-step process of writing an effective content brief.
How to Write a Content Brief:
a Step-by-Step Process
Propose a Headline
The headline takes the top spot of the content brief.
Bear in mind: This headline isn’t set in stone.
So encourage your content writer to include their suggestions.
You don’t have to use them, but it’s always good to get opinions from a fresh pair of eyes. Your writer may spot something you’ve missed.
Tip: if you have a headline formula (e.g. [Number][Keyword][Result]) that tends to work well, put it in the brief.
Expose Reader's Intent
The search intent informs SEO.
What this means: You need to understand why people are searching for this keyword.
That way, you can align your content with their expectations.
Headline: Migraine Relief: The 7 Most Effective Remedies That Zap Brutal Pain
Target keyword: Migraine relief
To pinpoint the reader's intent, do an incognito search of "migraine relief". Note the articles on Page 1 to assess the headlines and content. They'll give you clues at what the searcher is looking for.
Your reader's intent could be: Searcher is a long-time migraine sufferer. They’re familiar with generic advice like painkillers and having 8 hours of sleep. They’re looking for effective alternatives that are backed by experts.
Write the Synopsis
Give an intro of what you want this blog post to be about.
Keep it brief — one paragraph will suffice.
"A migraine is unlike any headache. It affects 1 in 4 in America and it's the third most common disease in the world. While it's impossible to cure it completely, there are ways to help you better manage with the pain. Here are the seven most effective alternate remedies, backed by experts."
Share Key Takeaways
Share the takeaways you want readers to walk away after reading the blog post.
Think of them as the “meat” of your post!
▪ Migraine is a brutal neurological disease that can be better managed with remedies.
▪ Migraine sufferers should keep a journal to understand their triggers. What work for others may not for them.
▪ Above all else, migraine sufferes must focus on eating a healthy diet and living a low-stress life.
Include the Keywords
Include the target and secondary keywords in your content brief.
Most content writers don’t conduct keyword research — it’s your job, the client, to provide them.
If you need a hand with your keywords, hire a content strategist or agency.
Determine Success Criteria
The success criteria of your blog post ties back to your goal.
Ask yourself: What needs to happen for this blog post to be a success?
Maybe it’s an increase of page views or new sessions (common with top of the funnel content), or free trial sign-ups (bottom of the funnel).
◾ X leads/subscribers or free trial sign-ups
◾ X of demo calls
Show Word Count
Assess the Competition
Do an incognito search of the target keyword and list the top 5-10 articles that currently rank on page 1.
Just the headlines and URL will do.
These let your content writer knows what they’re up against, so they can conduct content gap analysis.
Uncover the Resources
Your content writer needs to be ultra familiar with your product and business goals BEFORE they start writing.
Share the most helpful resources that help them in this process.
◾ Voice & tone guides
◾ Links to relevant blog posts
◾ Demo of SaaS product
◾ Example of successful blog posts
Share Helpful Notes
Do you have additional information that don’t quite fit in the sections above?
Put them here.
Influencers or thought leaders you want your writer to mention (help with outreach)
Competing posts that are likely and unlikely to beat
Plan Distribution Strategy
Typically, the content writer doesn’t handle distribution as the responsibilities fall on you, the client.
Still! Share this briefly with the writer. It’s helpful for them to have this information at the back of their mind as they write the blog post.
Educate On Product
Your blog is not decorative. It serves a commercial function.
Send all important information to your content writer. Your sales pitch, demo, and marketing materials (e.g. brochures, press releases) will give them a peek at what you do and sell.
Craft an Outline
The outline usually happens after the content brief.
Once you’ve filled in the brief and send it to your writer for review, instruct them to send you an outline before they begin writing.
Don’t skip this.
Reveal Target Audience
It's a HUGE Waste of Time Rewriting Blog Posts...
Start on the right foot! Download your FREE content brief template (includes example) now. 👉 This is exactly what I use with clients in the B2B SaaS space.