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The Curiosity Gap: Does Curiosity Actually Help or Hurt Your Conversion Rates?

The Curiosity Gap: Does Curiosity Actually Help or Hurt Your Conversion Rates? Blog Feature

Ramona Sukhraj

Associate Director of Content, Strategized Initiatives That Increased IMPACT’s Website Traffic From ~45K to ~400K

December 14th, 2017 min read

So, I'm a huge movie buff.

When I was in high school, I dreamt about one day marketing in Hollywood (or Bollywood) -- working with celebrities, organizing press junkets and premieres, crafting clever taglines, creating trailers, and of course, teasers.

The success of a movie teaser in generating buzz relies heavily on the theory that people respond to curiosity.

Journalists have recognized this for decades and recently, content marketers across various industries have argued the same, but how much of an impact does it really have?  

In inbound marketing, does curiosity kill the cat -- or increase conversion rates?

What is "The Curiosity Gap?"

According to research from Carnegie Mellon, curiosity can be described as the space between what we know and what we want to know.

The less a person knows about a topic, the wider "the curiosity gap," but if its too wide, you run the risk of being annoyingly vague.

You want to leave your readers scratching their heads, not rolling their eyes.

Whether it’s through a landing page or headline, it’s the marketer job to walk the fine line between providing just enough information to pique curiosity or tease the reader, while also making it clear what value lies ahead.

How Much Teasing is Too Much?

In July 2014, GoodUI released a data story examining the performance of different variations of an eBook landing page.

The first landing page held true to industry best practices clearly identifying a consumer pain point, how the offer presented a solution, and including a few bullets about the eBook’s talking points.

The second, on the other hand, took a different approach by including social proof for increased credibility as well as offering premium tools (a free 5-day course and an unnamed “Bonus Gift”), but remaining vague about the eBook’s actual talking points.

After 5 days, the study found that the second variation’s conversions were an astounding 42% less than the first variation.

This is a perfect example of leaving too much of a curiosity gap.

Instead of teasing the prospect just enough to make them want more, the variation scares them away by showing no clear benefit to converting and ultimately takes its toll on conversion rates.

(Sure they’re getting a ton of stuff, but how was it helping them and why was it worth submitting their personal information?)

Clearly this landing page variation failed to achieve the delicate balance of intrigue and information, but it can be done.

When crafting your content, make sure to trickle out just the right amount of information to convey value without giving everything away. Give it a shot with these 4 simple approaches:

1. Be Assertive.

Don’t beat around the bush. Make a bold statement that doesn’t allow room for interpretation. Confidence catches the reader’s attention and makes them want to read more to hear your case -- especially if it’s something they’d typically disagree with (Think playing Devil’s Advocate.)

In the headline of this blog, Canva, doesn’t merely suggest that the reader should be taking long walks, it states it as a fact and makes the goal of the article clear. Upon reading this headline, you immediately begin to wonder why they would make this claim without anything to go off of.


Boom. Curiosity.

2. Present a Challenge.

Test the reader. Ask them a question that requires them to think twice.

By beginning your landing page, blog post, or even site page with a question, you prompt a moment of introspection within the reader. You force them to ask themselves this question and assess their own personal situation or skills.

HubSpot does a great job of this in a recent blog post titled, “This Sales Voicemail Script Has 6 Mistakes In It. Can You Find Them?”

Not only do they ask a question, but they pose a challenge to reader.


Even if you’re not be a sales expert, this headline makes you wonder if you’re up to the test. You’re curious to see if you can spot the mistakes and immediately want to click through to find out.

3. Create a Cliffhanger.

Returning to my Hollywood metaphor, like Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, or part 2 in any number of trilogies, find a way to create suspense with the use of cliffhanger.

Leaving a bit of key information out of our headline or email subject line, will, again, make the reader wondering what you're referring to and want to click to find out.

Take this example from Contently


Simply by starting its title with "This," you immediately ask yourself "Wait, what? What this?"

The only way to know what they're talking about is to read on -- which I did, and I'm a fan. 

4. Choose Your Words Carefully.

Any skilled writer (or marketer, in general, for that matter) knows every word has connotation. An easy way to evoke curiosity or surprise through your content is by infusing it with the right connotations to elicit the desired emotional response.

In this offer from it’s resource center, Salesforce, piques your interest by addressing a pain point (wanting to be a more productive salesperson) and offering you “Secrets” as a solution.


Their copy works because they are addressing a common concern within the audience, while also evoking a sense of exclusivity and mystery by referring to the solutions as "secrets."

To achieve the same effect, try infusing your content with words like: 

  • Fresh
  • Secrets
  • Banned
  • Confidential
  • Insider
  • Unknown
  • Revelations
  • Unusual
  • Surprising
  • Unexpected
  • Rare
  • Shocking

Getting Started

When crafting “curious content,” put yourself in your buyer’s shoes.

What would grab your attention? What value would have to present on the page, and most importantly, is it enough to make you want to read more?

When you fully understand what it is your buyer is looking for, you'll have a much better understanding how to push the limit of that in your copy.


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