2016 Content Marketing Toolkit: 23 Checklists, Templates, and Guides

If content marketing predictions made by leaders like Joe Pulizzi, Sarah Mitchell, Carlos Abler, and a number of other others are any indication, 2016 might really be the yr when manufacturers lastly begin to de-silo their content material efforts and function as absolutely useful publishers.

This implies it’s time to considerably ramp up your content material capabilities – or purchase them from different corporations – when you don’t need to fall far under the competitors relating to partaking with immediately’s tech-savvy and social media-refined shoppers.

No matter whether or not what you are promoting is trying to build or buy your content material advertising experience, setting your self up for larger success will take dedication, willpower – and an enterprise-wide view of each piece of content material you produce. Thankfully, the processes don’t have to be overwhelming in case you have the fitting instruments and steerage available.

With regards to creating profitable content material advertising initiatives, I’ve discovered that a lot of the duties could be divided into 4 key areas (with a little bit of overlap right here and there): considering,planning, doing, and enhancing.

With this in thoughts, I’ve compiled a DIY software package of checklists, templates, and assets that may assist make operating your content marketing program much more manageable.

Considering part

On this technique improvement part, your small business should decide why and for whom it’s creating content material and what objectives it'll obtain. It’s additionally the part the place you elicit the stakeholder help you could place your content material advertising program for optimum success.

The DIY device: This guidelines offers a concise overview of the important thing elements you will have to think about as you develop – or refresh – your content material advertising program.

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Getting purchase-in: A variety of shifting elements have to be tended if you wish to run a properly-oiled content material advertising machine. However there’s one barrier particularly that's positive to throw a monkey wrench into the works in the event you don’t assault it head-on: lack of executive support.

The DIY device: The next guidelines may also help you put together a compelling case and guarantee stakeholders that your content material advertising program might be nicely positioned to succeed in its objectives.

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Get every little thing you should grasp the purchase-in dialog in CMI’s Essential Starter Kit.

Constructing a technique: In response to our 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends analysis, fifty three% of the simplest content material entrepreneurs have a documented technique. A strategic street map is important for enterprise content material initiatives, because it helps everybody in your group perceive the alternatives and challenges concerned, prioritize tasks, and execute on every effort with a shared objective in thoughts.

The DIY device: Whereas there’s nobody-measurement-matches-all template for creating a strategic street map, this information to the essentials of a documented content marketing strategy will stroll you thru all the problems you ought to be ready to deal with.

Creating a mission assertion: A content marketing mission is an overview of an organization’s cause for creating content material, and the priorities and views it can uphold in pursuit of that mission. Because it helps to outline the distinctive content material advertising worth your enterprise offers, it’s a essential element for governing your content material creation efforts and protecting them targeted on your small business objectives.

The DIY device: Use this worksheet (created as a part of CMI’s workbook on launching a content marketing program from the ground up) to hone in on the important thing elements that ought to comprise your group’s distinctive content material advertising mission.


Constructing viewers personas: A buyer persona is a composite sketch of a key phase of your viewers; it characterizes who they're, what their related wants are, and what position they're more likely to play within the buying course of. With out personas to information your selections, you usually tend to revert to creating content material round what you know greatest (your merchandise and firm) as an alternative of across the info your viewers is actively looking for.

The DIY device: This information will stroll you thru the whole lot you could create easy, yet actionable, content marketing personas.

Mapping all of it out: As soon as you identify your mission, audience, strategic objectives, and goals, the subsequent step is to construct a framework that defines how your group will use content material to realize them.

The DIY device: The step-by-step course of outlined on this post by Brain Traffic’s Meghan Casey will present you ways that is carried out.

Planning part

I name this part the “actuality bridge,” because it describes the actions essential to take your content material advertising program from its existence as a lofty strategic perfect to its realization as a totally practical and productive content material advertising engine.

Constructing the framework in your content material plan: Repeat after me: Content material advertising works greatest once you plan for its success. Mapping key issues, comparable to your subjects and concepts, procedural tips, workflow processes, and channel priorities earlier than you begin to write will make it a lot simpler to maintain the excessive-high quality content material flowing easily, and overcome any sudden challenges which will come up.

#Contentmarketing works best when you plan for its success by @joderama via @cmicontentCLICK TO TWEETThe DIY software: Not solely does this road map template from Michael Brenner tackle the necessities of a strong content material advertising plan, it will possibly additionally assist you account for particular particulars which might be related to your organization’s distinctive enterprise case – like group assets, subjects, and key performance indicators.


Figuring out your clients’ journey: Offering your viewers with a rewarding expertise is the entire level of content material advertising. So it’s important to know their consumption preferences, engagement habits, and ache factors – in addition to how these wants might change over time – when you anticipate your content material to ship the sort of worth that may show you how to forge deeper buyer relationships.

Providing your audience with a rewarding experience is the whole point of #contentmarketing by @joderamaCLICK TO TWEETThe DIY device: Buyer journey maps just like the one under (initially shared on this post by Marcia Riefer Johnston) make your personas extra actionable by serving to you give attention to the consumer state as you identify the content material subjects, story concepts, codecs, and channels to leverage as a part of your plan:


Discover ways to develop probably the most environment friendly, scalable content material advertising technique attainable. Register to attend the 2016 Intelligent Content Conference.

Aligning content material concepts with enterprise objectives: If you'd like your content material to succeed in the best individuals on the proper time, on the appropriate channels, and drive them to take motion, you want correct viewers knowledge to tell your publishing plans, in addition to the precise content material concepts you execute.

The DIY software: This multichannel content material advertising planner, created by technique skilledLisa Copeland, is a simple-to-use, straightforward-to-share strategy to seize the info and knowledge-associated insights that result in a strategically aligned content material creation.


Structuring your staff assets: As a result of there are simply so many shifting elements to effective content marketing creation and distribution, it’s crucial that everybody concerned is aware of who's answerable for every activity and that each one probably the most important duties are being accounted for in your content material advertising course of.

The DIY device: Joe Pulizzi has outlined 10 content marketing roles he believes each model might want to fill if it needs its initiatives to achieve success.

Want to rent for any of those roles inside your group? Search for candidates who can convey these essential skills to the desk.

Establishing your editorial tips: At a minimal, your editorial content material plan ought to define the defining traits of your model id (because it pertains to the content material you'll publish), the popular voice and elegance of your content material, and the editorial requirements governing your content material efforts.

The DIY device: Use the publishing tips cheat sheet under to find out and doc this info. 

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Setting your editorial calendar: This most regular and stalwart of instruments within the content material marketer’s arsenal has reworked itself through the years, from a easy spreadsheet for monitoring what we publish to an integral part for managing the whole life cycle of our group’s content material advertising program.

The DIY software: The CMI workforce makes use of a multi-tabbed spreadsheet that’s based mostly on the editorial calendar template under to maintain our content material concepts organized from conception to completion. Click on to obtain your personal copy, which you'll be able to customise to your staff’s particular content material wants.


Need extra steerage on creating an editorial calendar and retaining it crammed with related story concepts? Take a look at our full checklist of editorial calendar essentials

Creating your channel plan: This element of your editorial plan governs how, when, and on what particular platforms you'll publish content material, in addition to any guidelines of engagement that your group want to set for interacting on these channels.

The DIY device: Fill on this cheat sheet for every channel you propose to leverage in your content material advertising initiatives.

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Doing part

When you’ve set your technique and outlined your plans for executing it, it’s time to start out creating these compelling, customer-driven stories that may aid you attain that content material fort within the sky. Although the artistic course of is exclusive to each enterprise, loads of instruments may also help with producing story concepts, organizing them into related content material items, and sharing them with a audience.

Brainstorming concepts: Group brainstorming periods are a fantastic software for getting the artistic juices flowing and arising with new concepts for content material creation.

The DIY software: Comply with this easy, seven-step sticky-notice-based mostly course of outlined in this post by Jay Acunzo for extra productive content material advertising brainstorms.

Prioritizing your productiveness: Not each advised concept shall be a great match on your content material advertising technique. Some others could also be unbelievable on paper however require extra time and assets than your group can spare. When these conditions come up, it helps to have a course of for figuring out which tasks are pressing, in addition to for dealing with essential go/no-go decisions.

The DIY device: Use a content material request type just like the one under to assist your content material staff prioritize their very own tasks – and handle the expectations of exterior groups that depend on them for content material creation help.


Managing your ongoing progress: The extra you weblog, the extra you want a easy, scalable approach to monitor your earlier weblog posts and plan your future weblog content material.

The DIY device: Comply with the three-step post-tracking process shared by Roger C. Parker that will help you streamline and scale your content material creation efforts.

Curating content material: Curation is a good way to maximise your content material assets and get probably the most worth out of each piece of content material you publish. Nevertheless, it may be difficult to make sure that you're discovering, producing, and sharing the suitable info to make a constructive impression in your audience.

The DIY device: Use this scorecard created by Roger C. Parker to gauge the standard and consistency of your content material curation efforts over time and to ensure you are staying heading in the right direction.

Crafting compelling headlines: Headline writing may be probably the most troublesome a part of content material creation. Headlines have to seize consideration, however must be clear, related, and comprehensible, so readers discover precisely what they anticipate once they select to interact together with your content material.

Headlines need to grab attention, but should be clear, relevant, and understandable by @joderamaCLICK TO TWEETThe DIY device: This guidelines, from our information on cooking up a killer headline, outlines the principles each content material creator ought to comply with, together with some options for spicing up your efforts when you’ve mastered the fundamentals.


Listening to your group: It’s one factor to create content material that you simply assume your viewers will like; however the one true option to gauge the impression your content material is having in your viewers is to listen to the conversations they're having on social media about your corporation.

The way to gauge the impact #content is having on your audience is to listen to convos on #socialmedia.CLICK TO TWEETThe DIY software: Use this content material evaluation template created by James Prideaux to trace related social media conversations and doc any evaluation extracted out of your listening actions.  

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Enhancing part

These duties provide help to keep, strengthen, and develop your content material kingdom by figuring out what’s working (and fixing what isn’t), enhancing the worth and impression of your efforts, and amplifying your content material’s energy by means of strategic promotion and optimization methods.

Maximizing the worth of your platforms: Nowadays, it looks like there’s a scorching, new content material platform hitting the scene earlier than the excitement has even began to chill on the final one. However that doesn’t imply content material entrepreneurs want to start out publishing right here, there, and in all places to make an impression. As an alternative, what you are promoting could also be higher served by optimizing the content material you're already publishing on established channels, like SlideShare, LinkedIn, or your weblog.

The DIY software: In case you are trying to increase your use of the SlideShare channel or wish to get stronger outcomes from the content material you publish there, this e-book of SlideShare secrets will help you stack the decks in your favor.

Selling content material: Content material advertising promotion can take many varieties, corresponding to sharing your revealed content material in your social channels, enlisting the help of industry influencers, incorporating native advertising and different paid media alternatives, or leveraging different non-obvious promotion techniques.

The DIY device: If a weblog publish will get revealed in an enormous, crowded panorama, will the suitable viewers be capable of discover it? Maybe. However your possibilities can be considerably improved should you comply with this checklist from Mike Murray, which options over 50 ideas for advertising your weblog content material.

Optimizing for search engines like google: Optimizing your content material advertising for search can really feel like a recreation of Clue – a strategy of trial and error the place you might encounter a whole lot of false begins and lifeless ends earlier than discovering the appropriate path to success. However there are extra strategic methods to plan and handle your search engine marketing efforts in order that your content material attracts in your audience and delivers the worth they're in search of.

The DIY device: Following the ten steps outlined on this search engine optimization Clues infographic – in addition to the extra ideas that Tracy Gold provides in her ultimate SEO checklist – will make it simpler to unravel the mysteries of search-pushed content material discovery and enhance your rankings for related searches.

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Measuring success: Your content material is just nearly as good as its potential to help your advertising and enterprise objectives. It’s not sufficient to only create and distribute the content material you assume your viewers wants. You will need to additionally monitor and consider its efficiency on an ongoing foundation. 

The DIY device: Comply with the straightforward plan outlined by CMI’s Advertising Director, Cathy McPhillips, for measuring content marketing effectiveness – together with her KPI tracker template and an inventory of widespread objectives and their related metrics.

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Unsure which metrics will result in the precise content material insights you want? Take a look at this quick and easy ROI tip sheet

Go forth and conquer

Whereas the following pointers, instruments, and templates will assist you to begin tackling most of the challenges concerned in profitable content material advertising, they're no substitute for a radical understanding of the rules and methods they characterize. In case you have questions, or would really like further insights on any of those subjects, tell us what info you're in search of by including a remark.

That will help you conquer content material advertising all year long, subscribe to our daily or weekly email.

Cowl picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content material Advertising Institute



Writer: Jodi Harris

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