5 Best Practices to Succeed at Building Your Content Marketing Playbook

5 Best Practices to Succeed at Building Your Content Marketing Playbook

If you write it, they will come. Easy enough…right? There’s more to successful content marketing of course, but a deliberate content marketing playbook attracts readers, subscribers, and customers (eventually) to your business.

These content marketing best practices will help writers, editors, and strategists publish effective content on a consistent basis.

Team building a content marketing playbook
Photographer: Austin Distel | Source: Unsplash

Determine Goals with Data and Metrics In Your Content Marketing Playbook

Content marketing without metrics is like driving without a map. You’ll make progress and might even reach your destination. But it’s a risky move that could cost you time and money. Content marketing metrics has become an umbrella term for SEO, social media, and website engagement data. Large content teams hire specialists in each of these fields. Smaller teams and startups must get by with one or two people overseeing everything. Regardless of team size, the first step is to identify the most important goals of any future content plan. Consider these options:

  • Goal: Build a following – resonate with readers on an emotional level.
  • Priority Metrics: Social shares, follower counts, blog post comments, social media replies, etc.
  • Goal: Become a content authority – develop content that is the standard of your industry.
  • Priority Metrics: Website and blog post traffic, time on page, bounce rate, most visited pages, etc.
  • Goal: Sales and conversions – guide customers toward a purchasing decision with informative and persuasive content.
  • Priority Metrics: Click-through rate, repeat visitor frequency, gated content downloads, email newsletter opt-in success and open rates
  • Goal: Compete in organic search – use SEO-friendly content and website optimization to rank for high search volume keywords.
  • Priority Metrics: Keyword rankings, backlinks, internal/external linking, local visibility factors, etc.

Pillar Pages vs. Keyword-Based Ideas

In the past, keyword research drove content ideas directly. Identify a relevant keyword with substantial search volume then write an article to address that keyword. That strategy is not futile today, this guide explains how to use keywords for content ideas. However, there are new considerations given the rise in voice search, mobile search, and Google’s love affair with featured snippets.

A pillar strategy is designed for these new trends. Topics are tackled with a pillar page that includes a long-form guide on the topic, links to related content, and media elements (videos, graphics, etc). Here’s Hubspot’s example of a pillar page for Instagram marketing.

Playbook Banner

It’s important to choose topics that are not too broad or too specific. For instance, “content marketing” would be too broad, and “content marketing conversion rate tips” would be too specific. An ideal pillar page could be “content marketing metrics.”

Optimize Your Content Workflow

Tracking metrics and content plans are important, but what about the actual work?

Young man covered in sticky notes, work overload
Photographer: Luis Villasmil | Source: Unsplash

Content creation requires organization, collaboration, consistency, and attention to detail. Even content teams with healthy budgets must keep track of freelance writers, internal and external linking, editing, images, and promotion. Use these tips to optimize your content workflow.

Source of truth document or software – Don’t let tasks get lost in a sea of different documents, excel sheets, or software programs. Focus on creating a single source of truth so team members and stakeholders can view the current content marketing strategy at any time.

Kanban (status tracking) – Kanban workflow features are ideal for content production (for example a Trello board). Blog posts are listed under a column with their current statues e.g. writing, editing, awaiting media, etc. There are dozens of ways to achieve this, but a status tracking element is a must for any content marketing playbook.

Editing process – Always use an editing process when possible. This could be a dedicated editor on staff, a freelancer, or a team approach where writers edit fellow writers. This will improve content quality as you catch mistakes, typos, and inconsistencies.

Versatile teams – Content consistency is easier when there’s a versatile team of people who can perform multiple roles. This way writers can jump on editing duties, editors can jump on writing, and so on.

Unlock Your Uniqueness In Your Content Marketing Playbook

Content marketing is highly competitive. Companies have to stand out to succeed. Step back from the keywords and think about unique ideas that only your company could publish.

  • A post with behind the scenes footage from a video shoot.
  • Interviews with key players in your industry or at your company.
  • A look inside your office. Plants, coffee, furry coworkers.
  • Crazy ways your team stays productive.

Another strategy is to think about your blog a company-driven resource. Anyone in the company can write and contribute with the right guidance, allotted work time, and encouragement.

Buffer, a social media software company, accomplished this with its Open Culture Blog. They share stories about their company operations involving remote work, salaries, meetings, new employee onboarding, and more. Microsoft took a similar approach with Story Labs. These posts feature employees working on interesting projects and historical context behind emerging technologies.

Tip: Not sure how to develop these ideas? Create a long-form listicle with all the best examples you can find.

Tried-and-True: Dependable Best Practices

These strategies work for any industry. They may seem dry but have proven ROI over time and should be included in any content marketing playbook.

Evergreen – Content that holds up year after year is valuable. These posts can answer simple but common questions. Maintain the SEO value of these posts by checking for necessary updates every six months.

Timely posts – Newsjacking means using a viral or trending topic for content inspiration. This is beneficial for SEO relevance and making it apparent that your content is updated regularly. Inescapable 2020 example: COVID-19.

Seasonality – Social media managers worship obscure holiday calendars. See: February 15, #SinglesAwarenessDay. Use this strategy for content. Fill in gaps on the content calendar with holiday-driven posts.

Themes – Make your own themes. Set up an overarching idea each quarter. Or slowly roll out an ultimate guide on a given topic. Themes are a powerful tool to organize ideas and present them in a way that makes sense to readers.


WriteForMe is creating free content marketing playbooks for companies to help pave the road for a strong content marketing strategy.

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Andy Steuer

Andy Steuer

Andy Steuer is the Chief Marketing Officer at WriteForMe. Andy has been CEO, CMO, VP of Product for 8 fast-growing companies in his career. 3 of those companies became Top 10 Internet companies. Content Marketing has always been at the core to differentiate these companies from their competition. You can always schedule a 1 on 1 meeting with Andy by grabbing some time on his calendar here. List articles below that have Andy on the byline on the rest of the page. Here’s my calendar link:https://meetings.hubspot.com/andysteuer » More blog posts by Andy Steuer

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