How to Improve Content Marketing with IQR: Part 1

How do you know whether your content game is getting better or worse? It’s easy to rely on stock analytics tools, and for the beginning content marketer, tools such as Google Analytics are more than enough. For the veteran marketer who is creating content, how can we know with greater precision whether our content is getting better or worse? How can we more quickly diagnose the bad, double down on the good, and make our program sing?

Today begins the start of a new series on an advanced measurement technique that will help you to understand your content marketing efforts better. To embark on this journey, you’ll need up to a year’s worth of data (at least 90 days), a spreadsheet, and an understanding of how to use your spreadsheet’s quartile and box/whisker tools.

What we’re going to do is break any given content marketing metric into four buckets, into quartiles. The lowest quartile bucket will be the really underperforming content. The middle two quartile buckets will be the average content. The upper quartile bucket will be the outperforming content, the good stuff. By segmenting our content into four buckets of bad, average, and good, we can better understand how good the good is and how bad the bad is. What we’ll be computing is called the interquartile range (IQR), the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff.

Start by downloading and formatting your data so it’s in an orderly series, chronologically ordered. Here, I’ll use social sharing of posts from a Facebook Page, but you can use any sequential data: Google Analytics, Twitter, CRM, etc.


You’ll next create 3 columns: bad stuff, good stuff, and IQR:


Next, in the 31st row in the bad stuff column, insert the following formula:


This formula says to give the value, the boundary of the first quartile, which 25% of the cells in column E can be found; put another way, only 25% of the values in column E will be below the number that appears in the bad stuff cell. This is our bad stuff number, the number at which a quarter of posts fall below. These are posts that were shared less than the other 75% of posts.

In the 31st row in the good stuff column, insert the following formula:


This formula is the good stuff. 75% of content falls below this number, so it’s a good way to measure how much content forms the majority of your average to poor content. Anything above this number is going to be great content.

Now, we compute what’s called the interquartile range, or IQR. This is the difference, the spread, between the upper 75% that signifies great stuff and the lower 25% that signifies bad stuff. In the cell adjacent to the good stuff, subtract the bad stuff from the good stuff:


This number is the interquartile range.

Drag all three columns down to the end of your data set (or double click on the little lower right hand blue square to auto-fill the columns):


You’ve now got the data all set up. In the next post in this series, we’ll start digging into how to interpret it and turn it from data into analysis. Stay tuned!

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You are only as good as the capabilities you remember

How many marketing tools, tactics, and strategies do you know?

If you stopped to think about it just now, chances are you’d struggle to remember more than a few. You probably remembered ones you’ve used most recently, or ones that are part of a project you’re working on now.

However, your potential is much greater. You’ve got a lot of knowledge locked away that you haven’t brought forward and you don’t keep loaded in your head.

As a result, whenever you have to brainstorm, chances are your brainstorms are lackluster. You probably come up with the same 5 ideas over and over again.

How do you defeat this cycle of mediocrity?

The answer is to map out your capabilities, your potential. Map out what you can do, what you know how to do, so that when you face new problems, you’ve got as big a picture of your solutions as possible.

For example, this is a hilariously large mind map from a couple years ago about how to market a podcast:


(for a version you can actually read, click here for the PDF)

When faced with a question about marketing a podcast, instead of trying to wrack my brain for what I know, I can refer to a map I’ve made of what I know how to do. The map refreshes my memory and brings forward the full set of capabilities I can bring to bear.

Make your own mind maps of solutions you have to common marketing problems. When you face problems of a similar nature, you’ll know what you can do and be far more effective in choosing your strategy.

Remember: you are only as good as the capabilities you remember you can do.

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What’s your actual social media reach?

One of the key metrics to pay attention to at the very top of the funnel is reach. How many people are you getting in front of on a regular basis?

Facebook fans, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections are all great and important as a very first step towards growing your presence. That said, how much of the audience you’ve accrued actually sees your stuff?

Here’s an example. In Twitter’s Analytics, this is the information we see by default:


So far, so good. Over 86 days, I accrued 1.2 million impressions. With 80,000+ followers, that works out to 14,000 impressions a day, or about 17.5% reach in aggregate.

But there are details and nuances. Above, I’ve highlighted how a recent tweet has performed. It’s accrued only 1,100 impressions. What if this is the more common scenario? How would we find out?

I downloaded my stats from Twitter (just push the Export CSV button) and plotted average impressions out on a line chart:


It looks like the median reach of my tweets on a daily basis is actually about 2,150 impressions. This tells a very different story: my actual reach for any given tweet is 2.69% of my audience size.

Imagine, if you’re trying to benchmark yourself against competitors, and you see a particularly fearsome competitor with a million followers, how much less fearsome they appear if only reach 26,900 of them?

What’s the antidote to this lack of reach? We of course know what the various social networks would like us to believe the antidote is:

Slackershot: Money

Beyond that, what else can you do? The simplest thing is to cross-pollinate; by sharing the same content on multiple networks, you can reach potentially different audiences. For example, if we examine my Google Analytics traffic, we see that Twitter generates slightly more than 2/3 of my social visits:


If I focused only on Twitter, I’d be missing 30%+ of my traffic from other networks. That’s why I typically will post the same content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. I also use email marketing to reinforce what I share socially, to ensure that content gets seen by as many people as possible.

If your social media program isn’t performing as well as you expect it to, take a look at your actual reach metrics. Find out just how many people are truly seeing your content, then test alternate methods and schedules to find what generates the best results for you.

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