You've designed a detailed roadmap for your marketing campaigns backed by a clear and laser-focused content strategy. You've assembled a dream team of contributors to execute this roadmap, and you're ready with a workflow to produce repeatable success.
Even with so much preparedness, a missing link can potentially break the chain—and your hopes of success.
A content template is a hinge connecting your team with your strategy. Content templates lay the groundwork to produce publish-ready content without spending too much time or effort. It summarizes the information you'd need to create, edit, publish, and distribute a piece of content—taking the guesswork out of the picture.
Add an AI-powered tool like Jasper to the picture, and you're ready to create quality content at scale!
This blog will list the 10 most crucial elements of a content template and explain how AI can make things easier for you. Let's get started.
What is a content template?
A content template curates crucial details that a creator would need to produce a brand-aligned piece of content. This template includes multiple fields related to the overall content marketing strategy and business goals alongside information specific to that piece, like the target audience and competitor analysis.
A content template can maximize consistency and remove the bottlenecks from the process. It also helps you:
- Streamline communication and collaboration within the team
- Compile all the research and resources to prepare a near-perfect draft
- Create a plan for distributing the content post publishing
- Produce content at scale with a predefined workflow
Put simply, content templates simplify the content creation process and prepare the team for promoting the content on different channels.
What should be included in a content template?
Too many cooks spoil the broth, goes the old saying. It rings true when you think of your marketing team. With so many roles involved in publishing and promoting one piece of content, things can quickly get messy if there’s no clarity on who’s doing what.
A content template tackles this issue, enabling marketing teams to work faster and smarter. Here’s what a good content template includes:
1. Instructions to use the template
A content template is fairly lengthy and often complicated. Many people might get confused about using this document to make their contributions.
So, the very first element of your template should be a short video or guide explaining how to best use this template. If you’re already aware of the people involved in filling it out, create specific guidelines for them to get the best out of content marketing templates.
2. Timelines for submission and review
The only way to stick to your content calendar is to assign realistic timelines for every piece. But these timelines go far beyond the final publish date. You need to set doable deadlines for the writer, editor, design team, email marketers, and all the other roles involved in the process.
So, the next section of your content planning template will cover all the timelines.
Be as thorough as possible in setting deadlines for every stage of the approval process, like this template by AVO. It includes four due dates for three drafts and the publish date.
3. Content format and target word count
To ensure that the outputs align with your expectations, define the ideal format for your content requirements—be it a long-form article, a case study, or a podcast script.
Writers need clarity on the kind of content you expect them to create to hit the right spot. Besides, a ballpark figure for the final word count tells them how deep they should go with the piece. This brief does this perfectly with a table mentioning the type of content, format, and word count.
4. Target audience and goal
Without knowing the end readers, it’s nearly impossible to target their pain points and present solutions aligned with their aspirations.
So, add a section to explain the intended audience for the content. Create reader personas in your content plan to best explain the traits of different readers—helping writers produce impactful content that resonates with them.
Besides defining the target audience, you also want to convey your marketing goals and business objectives for every piece. Tell writers exactly how their content will help your company and share your vision to get great outputs. Take inspiration from this template example to share information about your target audience and goals.
5. Tone of voice and intent
In the next section, give writers an insight into any piece's tone of voice (TOV) and intent.
Specifying the TOV helps in maintaining a consistent brand voice across all platforms. But this can differ for each piece depending on the content angle and target audience. The intent indicates what the readers are ideally looking for while searching for an article like this. If you match the intent, you can bag higher rankings.
These two points can guide both writers and editors to nail your messaging. Here’s a content template by Column Five with different boxes for key messaging and the tone of the content.
6. Layout with subheadings
While you want to give writers the creative freedom to research and write the content in their own style, a layout can nudge them in the right direction.
So, include an overall content structure with the main header and topics or subheads to cover. You can also add links to reference material for the writer to understand your expectations better. This brief template by Brafton includes a few sections to cover this information.
7. Target keywords and meta details
If you want your content to rank and gain traction, you have to optimize it for the search engines. To do this, writers need a set of target keywords, search intent, and other meta details to produce SEO-friendly outputs.
Coordinate with the SEO experts in your team to conduct keyword research, condense their findings into these fields and give writers a heads up on the keywords they should include. This content template shows exactly how it’s done—different sections listing down the keywords to include paired with a short explanation.
8. Competitor analysis
Knowing what your audience wants is just the first step. You also need to identify what your competitors are doing to outrank them and establish your authority.
Perform a thorough competitor analysis for every topic to understand the good and bad things about the competing pieces. This gives you the advantage of producing stand-out content to attract more traction than other pieces.
9. CTAs to include
What do you want readers to do once they’ve read the entire piece? How do you want to position your brand within this content and encourage readers to take action? Answer these questions in your content template by telling writers the kind of call to action they should include in the piece. Here’s a template by Narrato that does this perfectly.
10. Content distribution plan
Creating and publishing content is just half the job done—the other half is about distributing this content on social media, email marketing, and other channels for maximum visibility. Your content template should include a distribution plan to increase its reach through different platforms.
Add specific sections for your entire distribution pipeline, like this brief template by Orbit Media. The designated people can simply fill in these details and ship out your content for all the channels.
How does AI help with content templates?
Creating content is no cakewalk. But content management and handling a team can be even more challenging.
While a content template can streamline the workflow and reduce the constant back-and-forth between people, making this template for every project isn’t exactly easy. This is where artificial intelligence comes to your rescue.
An AI content creation tool like Jasper uses natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG) models to best understand and imitate the human perspective. With some basic information, this tool can identify what you should write about and how—through detailed outlines for the topic.
For example, you can brainstorm the best topics for your brand by adding simple details like the business name, description, audience, and tone of voice. Jasper’s Blog Post Topic Ideas template will give you three options to create content around.
Once you’ve shortlisted a set of topics, use Jasper’s Blog Post Outline template to further fill your template. It takes a few simple details from you to curate actionable points for the topic. So, you have a finished outline ready within seconds.
You can rely on Jasper’s advanced templates to do all the heavy lifting for your content template and guide the way for your team members to finish every project seamlessly.
Simplify content creation with templates
Content creation has always been a pain for marketers, no matter how experienced. Content templates can take this pain out of the process and create a more collaborative approach.
A content template brings everyone in your team on the same page and offers the necessary resources to produce a stellar piece of content. With an AI writing assistant like Jasper, you can pack this template with more value and focused ideas to execute your marketing plan as quickly as possible.