How to Improve Content Marketing with IQR: New York Times Case Study

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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?

In part 5 in this series, we’ll apply our lessons in total to the venerable Gray Lady, the New York Times, and how often her content is retweeted. If you didn’t do any of the coursework in part 1, part 2, part 3, or part 4, go back and do those examples first.

We’ll begin by examining the New York Times’ overall record. In the last year or so, they’ve tweeted an astonishing 39,000 times, more than 100 times a day. Overall, their tweets are retweeted an average of 144 times. Let’s begin by setting up our lower quartile and upper quartiles. We’ll measure over a 7 day rolling window, or 700 rows at a time:


Next, let’s plot our bands. What do you see?


Attach the trendlines:


And refer back to our handy chart:


What we see is that the New York Times has a solid and growing content marketing program, a successful one where the best stuff and the worst stuff are both growing, but the best stuff is outpacing the worst stuff.

Let’s add in the interquartile range measurement:


We now have a very clear picture in just a few minutes of how the New York Times is faring in its content marketing program, at least from the perspective of retweets.

What’s the next step for the New York Times? To sort its content by whether the number of retweets is above the third quartile boundary or below the first quartile boundary, then examine what the best content has in common.

Try the IQR methodology to determine how well your content marketing is going!

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