5 Ways to Exploit the Curiosity Gap for Engaging Marketing Emails


It’s undeniable that clickbait in email subject lines works to improve open rates. It exploits the “curiosity gap” between what we already know and what we want to know. But as marketers, we hesitate to use it for fear of losing brand credibility.

So we developed and optimized a style of writing subject lines that we call “Newsbait”. It entices readers with the promise to fill their curiosity with irresistible nuggets of newsworthy knowledge.

Here are five types of Newsbait email subject lines we often use.

1. Fresh News

Subject: Your copy of the 2019 State of Predictive Analytics is ready for download.

A line with a recent date strongly communicates something current and newsworthy that requires the reader’s attention.

Bonus Tip

If your email content isn’t actually new, then try using words like “updated”, “revised”, or “re-released” to give it a sparkle of newness.

2. Numbered Content

Subject: 9 insights into how top retailers are now cutting supply chain overheads.

Emails that lead to content with bite-sized nuggets of knowledge tend to engage the reader’s curiosity, especially among decision-makers who don’t have the time to digest full whitepapers.

Bonus Tip

We love phrases like “insights” or “insider’s guide” because they promise the reader entry into an exclusive club.

3. Factoids

Subject: We reveal why 50% more manufacturers are opening their own eCommerce sites.

Adding factoids in the subject is a way of consistently giving an email a more Newsbait angle. Websites like Statista.com are treasure troves for factoids like this.

Bonus Tip

We like to use words like “reveal”, “uncover”, and “expose” that have proven to boost opens and click-throughs.


Subject: Why your employee healthcare plan is failing.

Nothing invites curiosity quite like fear. The fear of missing out or fear of failing needs answers that your content can promise to fulfil.

Bonus Tip

Words like “losing”, “falling short”, and “the real reason” can trigger the fears that even the most self-confident reader has inside.

5. Newsmakers

Subject: Discover why Amazon is quietly increasing its reliance on regional parcel carriers.

Employing the name of a company, personality, or association as an implied endorsement makes any email more newsworthy. And who would want to miss out on some trade secrets?

Bonus Tip

We also like words like “quietly”, “secretly”, and “unofficially” to suggest that the email contains some special knowledge.

One final thought.

If you were to write an email subject line to promote this article, what would it be? Which technique would you choose?

I’m curious, so please send your answers to timyang@copywriter.my.

Or if you’d like some tips and ideas on making your marketing campaigns more effective, write to me anyway.