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We’re firm believers in the power of checklists.
They’re essential for ensuring your work is efficient and effective. Nearly any task can be broken down into a logical list of steps. Following those steps makes sure projects are done right the first time, every time.
That’s why we’ve created this extensive content marketing checklist. It’s made up of several smaller lists of basic steps for a variety of content marketing areas. Whether you’re a writer, designer, or project manager, there’s something useful for you here.
You can download these checklists in one editable Word doc within this post. We’ve also included a template to create your own project checklist (plus five bonus checklists).
Table of Contents
There are three key benefits for following this checklist:
Don’t simply take our word for it, though. Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto, says:
Good checklists … are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything–a checklist cannot fly a plane. Instead, they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps–the ones that even the highly skilled professional using them could miss. Good checklists are, above all, practical.
We couldn’t put it better ourselves (obviously, which is why we borrowed this quote). This video explains this point in much more detail:
[ ] Define your objective. You need to set a goal before starting any project. It should also be clear which greater business objectives your content marketing project is working toward.
[ ] Have deadlines been set? Deadlines are key for ensuring projects get shipped. They’re also useful for limiting scope creep. Determine how long each step in your project should reasonably take to complete.
[ ] Are budgets set? It’s important to know how much money you can spend on your project. This is true whether you’re working at an agency or in-house. If you need more cash, negotiate what you can get with whomever holds the purse strings in your organization.
[ ] Delegate tasks to appropriate team members. Make sure you have the right team members ready to work on your project. Eliminate excess roles so those team members can be more effective elsewhere.
[ ] Outline project completion steps. Document each step required to complete your project. This essentially entails creating a unique, project-specific checklist of your own.
[ ] Establish success metrics. Planning is meaningless without successful execution. What will it take to consider your project successful? Determine what you’ll measure to gauge performance.
[ ] Set dates for check-in meetings. It’s important to schedule times to discuss project progress. These meetings don’t need to be long. You simply need to maintain open communication to ensure you will reach your deadline.
[ ] Create a keyword spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are immensely helpful for keeping keyword data organized.
[ ] Gather keyword search volumes. There are a number of keyword research tools available to complete this step. The Google Keyword Planner is a free, must-use option. Here are some others to explore:
[ ] Analyze keyword difficulty. It’s important to choose keywords you can reasonably expect to rank on. Here are three tools to consider using for this process:
[ ] Understand keyword search intent. Know what the intention is behind your keyword. Are they looking to make a purchase, doing research, or looking for information?
[ ] Verify your keyword is relevant to your audience. High search engine rankings are meaningless if you’re publishing the wrong content. Make sure your chosen keyword fits within your niche and is relevant to your readers.
[ ] Cross-reference keyword data with multiple tools. It’s always a good idea to use multiple tools for keyword research. This allows you to gather data from more than one source, providing a broader picture around your chosen keyword set.
[ ] Make sure you’re not already targeting your selected keyword. It’s possible you may already rank for your chosen keyword without knowing it. This is where using an SEO platform like Moz, Raven Tools, or a dedicated rank tracking tool can be useful.
[ ] Complete competitive research. Ask these questions:
[ ] Select your topic. Depending on your ideation process, this step may come before or after doing keyword research.
[ ] Define your angle. What unique perspective can you bring to your topic?
[ ] Complete keyword research. Keyword research is not dead. It’s an important step for ensuring readers can find your blog post. That’s why it bears repeating here.
[ ] Complete competitive analysis. Read other blog posts on your topic. Make note of what information they include. Determine how your post can add more value. This may mean incorporating new information or content types (video, infographics, etc.) missing from existing posts.
[ ] Research your topic. If you know your topic well, it’s important to do proper research. This helps prevent missing details and committing factual errors. It will also help establish you as an authority on your topic.
[ ] Write your outline. This is an important step for organizing your thoughts. Highlight the main points your post will cover. Then, determine your subheadings and sub-points. It’s much easier to finish a blog post when you know exactly what you’ll write first. This will save you time in the long run and make sure you hit your deadline.
[ ] Include a hook in your intro. If your introduction isn’t immediately compelling, rewrite it.
[ ] Include image direction and copy notes. Determine where your graphics will be placed. Then, include brief summaries for each image that your designer can follow. These should include a headline, all copy, and a general idea of what it should look like. This makes life easier for your designer by removing guesswork.
[ ] Place images and videos. Make sure all images and videos are properly placed. This means ensuring they’re located in the right places and with the correct dimensions. If any are missing, add them in.
[ ] Write corresponding social messages. You’ll need social media content to promote your blog post, right? It’s often easiest to write these messages while the information is fresh in your mind.
[ ] Proofread. Catch your own errors before readers do. Look through everything yourself. Then, have another team member review your writing.
[ ] Is this post better than any other on this topic? This is somewhat subjective, sure. However, check to ensure your content is more comprehensive (or at least differentiated) from existing content from your competitors.
[ ] Does this post introduce new information about your topic? Unique content is important both for providing actual value to readers. It’s also important for SEO.
[ ] Are all sentences clear and easily readable? Writing can be grammatically correct without being easy to read.
[ ] Is any key information missing? Make sure no information needed to understand your topic is missing. Check to confirm all key details that need be mentioned. Cross-reference your post with others on the web to find potential gaps in your content.
[ ] Implement correct formatting. Determine whether all formatting is consistent with your company or blog’s style standards. Also, check for the following:
[ ] Check graphics for spelling errors. Image copy errors are easy to miss. Unfortunately, they’re also more difficult to fix than simply editing text in your blog CMS. It’s better to get this right before your posts publish.
[ ] Does your post “show” and not just “tell”? Rather than simply telling your reader what your topic is about, show them. If your post doesn’t do this, it may not be as compelling as it could be.
[ ] Is the copy consistent with your style standards? Whether you use AP style or your own style guide, it’s important that all text be consistent. This helps convey a clean and professional appearance.
[ ] Are all your claims factually accurate? Verify any information you’re unsure about. Publishing incorrect information can hurt your reputation. Worse, it could even get you in legal trouble.
[ ] Does your campaign have a clear purpose? Your campaign should have a clear aim in mind. Establish an objective (increasing followers, driving leads, raising brand awareness, etc.).
[ ] Do you have social content prepared for (at least) the next two weeks? Not all social media content should be pre-planned. However, it makes life much easier to have your core messaging scheduled in advance. This is especially true when managing multiple networks. Two weeks is generally a good amount of time to keep your calendar full.
[ ] Have metrics and goals been determined? If you’re planning a campaign, it’s important to determine which metrics you’ll use to gauge your success.
[ ] Are all messages appropriate? Brands get themselves in trouble due to offensive or inappropriate content far too often. Don’t be one of them. Before scheduling a campaign, review all messages to confirm there’s nothing offensive or culturally insensitive included.
[ ] Does your campaign include content across all appropriate social networks that you’re on?
[ ] Does your campaign incorporate strong images? According to Hubspot, “colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.” Keep this in mind when creating your social campaign content. Not every post may need images. However, it’s important to include a mix of images where possible and appropriate.
[ ] Are hashtags present where necessary? If you’re working on a campaign, consider creating a custom hashtag to tie all your posts together. If you’re tweeting about something timely or topical, do some hashtag research to see if there are any you can leverage for more exposure.
[ ] Have you responded to all incoming social messages? Make this part of your daily routine. If you’re tasked with managing social media full-time, consider upping that to an hourly check.
[ ] Have you written a strong subject line? Follow our tips to write a compelling subject line that will get your recipients to click.
[ ] Write copy and include all images.
[ ] Do all links work in your email content? Click each one prior to delivering your email.
[ ] Has your email copy been proofread? You can’t take back an email once it has been sent. Catch typos before you hit send.
[ ] Is the value of your email clear to the reader? The recipients of your email want to know what’s in it for them. Ensure your subject line and body content convey a clear benefit to your audience.
[ ] Is there a clear call to action? If your email is intended to drive a desired action (reading an article, clicking a link, etc.), double-check that you have a strong call to action.
[ ] Have you removed all default template content? Many major email marketing platforms feature templates that include placeholder content. Nothing looks more unprofessional than seeing this unedited template text in an actual email. Make sure it’s gone.
[ ] Are analytics set up correctly? Most email platforms handle analytics well with minimal work required on your end. However, you may also want to ensure Google Analytics is properly configured to measure inbound traffic from your email newsletter.
[ ] Is your list properly segmented? If your list is segmented based on interests, demographics, or specified user requests, make sure you’re only sending emails to the right audience.
[ ] Are you in compliance with CASL? Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) makes it illegal in that country to automatically check opt-in boxes to receive marketing emails. Avoid legal troubles by making sure your opt-in boxes default to being unchecked.
[ ] Does your email direct to a quality landing or destination page? Referring email recipients to an irrelevant or poor quality page can kill conversion rates from email marketing. Double-check that all links not only work, but send visitors to attractive-looking pages that are directly related to the content in your email.
[ ] Is your email mobile-optimized? Most major email platforms allow you to create mobile-friendly email newsletters. However, it’s a good idea to confirm that your emails look as good on phones and tablets as they do on desktop computers.
[ ] Is your primary keyword in your URL, headline, H1 tag, title tag, meta description, and body content? Don’t go overboard with keyword optimization. Simply include it within each of these areas.
[ ] Are internal links to other posts and pages on your site included? These help readers find more valuable information, in addition to helping search engines understand the relationships between your site or blog’s posts and pages.
[ ] Have you written a strong title tag? A quality title tag:
[ ] Have you specified a strong meta description? If you don’t specify a meta description, search engines will generate a snippet of text pulled from your on-page content. However, writing your own gives you more control over how your pages appear in search results. Take the time to write one that summarizes your content and gives readers a compelling reason to click.
[ ] Are there any broken links in your content? Broken links create a poor user experience. They’re not great for SEO, either. Double-check your links before publishing your content.
[ ] Is your content high quality? Again, quality is subjective. There are some objective factors to consider though. These include:
[ ] Does your page load quickly? Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to confirm.
[ ] Do all images include optimized alt-tags and file names? If your image file names look something like 887ad0u9.jpg, take the time to rename them. Use descriptive keywords for file names, and up to 15 words worth of differentiated descriptive text for your alt-tags.
[ ] Has all copy for your image been written? If an image will include text, it’s best to have that copy written before beginning design.
[ ] Proofread image copy. Never let an image get published with a typo. Review your image copy first.
[ ] Has image direction been outlined? If you’re creating a blog post or social media campaign, specify the direction for each graphic prior to beginning design. This helps keep the writer and the designer both on the same page.
[ ] Design graphics.
[ ] Have all brand standards been met? Check that your image meets all visual branding guidelines for your brand or company.
[ ] If creating multiple images for a campaign or blog post, do they all align visually? Unless you have an intentional reason not to, keep your visual style consistent.
[ ] Check image file size. If file sizes are too large, they may cause your web pages to load slowly.
[ ] Is all text clearly readable? Designs should avoid obscuring the ability to read on-image text.
[ ] Is your resolution correct? Here are some basic guidelines to abide by:
[ ] Are your dimensions correct? All images should be the correct size for where they will be placed. For web images, never use your CMS to resize images—simply upload them at the correct size.
[ ] Write a clear outline. Do this before writing any actual landing page copy. This will help ensure your copy follows a logical sense of flow from start to finish.
[ ] Write a strong headline. Write 20 to 25 options and pick the best one (the same as you would with a blog post).
[ ] Include a strong call-to-action.
[ ] Create graphics.
[ ] Check that branding and style align with your style standards. This includes checking that color, font, and word choices are consistent with your brand’s style guides.
[ ] Proofread. We can’t hammer this point home hard enough.
[ ] Is your key selling point clear? Your headline and/or above-the-fold design elements should clearly convey the purpose of your landing page. If another person can’t determine the point of your landing page quickly, consider making adjustments accordingly.
[ ] Focus on benefits (not features). People don’t buy features. They buy the idea that a product or service can fix a problem or fill a need. Review your copy to confirm it conveys benefits more than it describes features.
[ ] Do you have a promotion plan in place (PPC, social media posts, email, etc.)? If you’re building a landing page, you probably have a plan to promote it. It’s good to cross your Ts and dot your Is all the same. Double-check that you aren’t missing any opportunities or promotional channels.
[ ] Align promotional messaging with your landing page copy. Review all content promoting your landing page to ensure all messaging is consistent.
[ ] Check that forms are easy to complete. If your landing page includes a lead generation form, test to ensure it’s easy to fill out. Difficult or confusing forms can cause conversion rates to plummet.
[ ] Establish success metrics. Here are a few to consider:
[ ] Set up an A/B test. If you’re using a service like LeadPages or Unbounce, setting up an A/B test for your landing pages is easy. Consider testing:
[ ] Gather equipment. Make sure you have everything you need before shooting. This includes cameras, mics, props, and anything else you may need.
[ ] Define the purpose of your video. Companies often shoot off-the-cuff videos hoping they’ll “go viral.” Do better and clearly define your video’s purpose. It could:
Whatever you do, be intentional about it.
[ ] Write your script. Then, read it out loud to confirm it sounds clear and will fit within any length requirements.
[ ] Identify on-screen personalities. Line up actors and speakers before shooting. These can be co-workers, guests, or professional actors.
[ ] Choose a filming location. Know where you’ll shoot your video. Confirm you have access to your location.
[ ] Shoot video.
[ ] Write a strong video title. It should be descriptive, and ideally, include any keywords you may want to rank for on YouTube and in search engines.
[ ] Write a strong video description. You’ll use this on YouTube (or anywhere else you upload your video).
[ ] Upload video. Some options include:
[ ] Add YouTube annotation links. These are invaluable for turning YouTube into a traffic driver for your site or blog.
[ ] If posting on YouTube, consider adding your video to a relevant playlist. This can help your video get found by users looking for similar content.
[ ] Make sure your mics work. This may seem obvious. However, it’s better to be sure they work before you start recording (especially if you have a guest).
[ ] Line up guests and participants. Determine who will be on your podcast (whether that includes yourself, co-workers, or guests).
[ ] Establish a topic or theme for your podcast episode. Keep your podcast from going off-track by defining what it’s about.
[ ] Create a loose outline. You don’t need to script every word. Just create some loose bullet points for what you’ll discuss. If your podcast is in interview format, prepare questions first.
[ ] Create intro music. If you’re not musically inclined, buy stock music. Starting each episode with a familiar tune can help make your podcast more memorable to listeners.
[ ] Record!
[ ] Edit audio.
[ ] Create a promotion strategy. This simply means creating promotional content to inform your audience about your podcast. It could include:
[ ] Establish a regular posting schedule. If you’ll be creating a podcast as a series, pick a consistent posting schedule. Using an editorial calendar can help keep you consistent.
You now have the checklists you need to keep all kinds of marketing projects organized and thoroughly completed. If you’d like to create your own specific checklists, download the template in this post.
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