Organic SaaS Growth: #12 The Curiosity Framework

By Ankur Tiwari on 30-03-2020

Today I'm going to show you how to use the power of curiosity to attract, engage and monetize new users for the growth of your SaaS business.

The Curiosity Framework

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Curiosity is a powerful lever.

Remember the time when the curiosity bug bit you, and you could not keep yourself away from digging deeper? Maybe it was the trailer of a movie you could not stop watching, an article headline you could not help but click or a mysteriously interesting person you spent hours searching about. We all have been there.

Recently a SaaS product made me insanely curious. It fueled my curiosity so much that I went from free signup to a paid user in just two days!


Content is one of the reliable channels for organic growth. I write a variety of content, from blogs to emails to ebooks to direct response copies to website copies.

With its focus on provoking a response, marketing content is quite different from academic content.

The use of fine language takes a back seat and the use of words and sentence structures that readers can easily understand, relate to, and finally convert becomes essential.

Every copy goes through rounds of correction…framing and reframing of sentences a couple of times. To make the editing process simpler, I have recently signed up for the free plan of Grammarly. It is an app that helps in writing by detecting spelling and grammatical errors.

As I started writing, Grammarly sat in the background, continuously checking the writing for mistakes, and soon enough, it showed me a spelling error. It took me no time to correct it as the app had shown the correct spelling.

Grammarly uses the curiosity framework

However, Grammarly showed something more, something that I was not expecting.

It showed me an option for advanced correction.

The Curiosity Framework

Now for someone who is writing in the public domain for a business goal, an option to correct his writings is a very attractive proposition. So I clicked on the advanced correction button. This time the popup showed that there is one additional writing issue. Grammarly is giving me information in bits, enough to progressively make me curious and, at the same time keeping its cards close to its chest.

The Curiosity Framework

Since I was not in the mood to upgrade to a paid plan, I let it go and went back to writing. However, soon Grammarly started showing eight advanced corrections. I might have published the post had I was not aware of these issues, but there was no way I could publish a post knowing that it contains eight issues. I had to know these issues.

Curiosity overpowered my financial prudence, and I signed up for Grammarly’s paid plan.


Curiosity is a powerful lever. You can integrate curiosity into your marketing initiatives to bring traffic as well as to convert free users into paid ones.


The Curiosity Framework

Curiosity can help you to entice people to desire to know more about your business. Let’s see how you can use curiosity for acquisition as well as monetization:

  1. Content Strategy: Build content to fuel curiosity
  2. Product Strategy: Build product features to feed curiosity
The Curiosity Framework

Content Strategy: Acquisition

An irresistible headline: The power of headlines can not be over-estimated in bringing the traffic. An intelligently crafted headline will improve the click-through rate and bring the traffic of your dreams to your website. However, be careful not to be spammy; the era of click-baits is over. Write a headline which:

  1. Is intriguing: A headline should appeal to the curiosity of the target audience; it makes the reader click on it in auto mode.
  2. Gives an idea about the content: a headline that has nothing to do with the content usually leads to a high bounce rate.
  3. Is not a clickbait: The era of “this will shock you” kind of clickbait headlines is over. You might get traffic spikes, but overall within your market, you will soon be known as a spammy player.
  4. Does not give away too much: you want people to feel curious and read the blog, not give away everything in the headline itself.

For example, look at this recent headline on daily mail.

The Curiosity Framework

Such a long headline may work for a tabloid that does not expect its readers to read complete articles. Their research might have shown that people only skim through headlines on their website. But if you want to build a content machine for SaaS growth, this is not a good strategy.

I will argue that as internet usage is increasing, people, in general, are becoming more and more aware of scammy tactics and developing an immunity towards such headlines.

What exactly will invoke curiosity among your target audience will largely depend on the audience. But here are some themes which you can readily experiment with for your audience:

A well-researched post: Create a post that takes the readers on a journey to first fuel and then answer some of their curiosity. You should leave the readers wanting more and then towards the end of the blog post, offer them a chance to subscribe to your mail list, and initiate them into a drip sequence.

  1. How-to: Show them the path to achieve something. However, how-tos are so commonly suggested and used that sometimes they are not done right. Be careful about two things: a) do not say something which is outrightly unbelievable, b) do not say something which has no or low emotional value. Create compelling headlines with high relevancy, e.g., “How not to waste time and resources in building SaaS products that no one wants?” or “How a SaaS can become ten times more profitable by listening to customer feedback?”.
  2. Raise a known problem among your target audience: Politicians do it all the time. A lot of them talk about unemployment, they may not necessarily have a solution, but they raise the issue. Kingdoms have been won by raising known issues. When you raise a known issue, people immediately agree with you, and they nod as they read your headline. It can be something simple and direct like “The desire to collect soul-touching words from great books is within every book lover.” I’m making this up, but a little research will give you the perfect headline.
  3. An underdog story: Everyone…literally, everyone loves to believe themselves an underdog at one or another point in their life. There is a romanticism involved in here. People love to read underdog stories, and they love to tell their own underdog stories. If you don’t believe me, go to YouTube and watch Jack Ma talking about “his struggles to start Alibaba from his living room?”.
  4. Make them mistake-proof: Share your mistakes e.g., “A google ad mistake which costs us millions of dollars” or a potential mistake your audience can make. “Has your trainer warned you about these five cardio mistakes”?. People click on such headlines driven by their innate desire to avoid mistakes and safeguard themselves.

Drip Sequence: A set of around seven automated emails that take subscribers on an educational journey along with promoting your SaaS product. Send these emails at a high frequency, say daily or on alternate days. At this stage, you want to focus on conversion and make them signup for your product. A way to do this is to provide information progressively and bind it with product usage.

Lack of information is a crucial source of curiosity, with the receipt of more and more information curiosity decreases, so you should carefully use this information gap.

The actual length of curiosity engagement will depend upon the nature of your product (B2B/B2C), price point, and other similar factors.


Product Strategy: Monetization

If content fueled curiosity can be used for free signups, product fueled curiosity can be used to convert free users into paying ones.

Let’s go back to Grammarly’s example discussed above. Though I was at first driven by the curiosity of knowing the mistake that Grammarly said I have committed in my draft, Grammarly is, in reality, offering me a chance to improve myself and my public work. Like a lot of people, I have made mistakes in my writings that I do not want to keep making.

Here is a heuristic to implement curiosity-based product strategy for monetization:

  1. Discover the triggers associated with the usage of your product, e.g., “self-improvement” and “public image” in case of Grammarly. Some known triggers that you can look at are: ‘desire to be better than others,’ ‘desire to get the best,’ ‘power-dominance-influence,’ and ‘sex-love-romance-sales.’
  2. Create two stages a) where they are b) where they want to reach
  3. If you have a free plan and a paid plan, create a feature to relate these two. Make this feature a non-invasive one, that sits at the right location and shows users a path they can take to progress from their current situation to the desired situation.

That’s all I wanted to discuss today on Curiosity Framework. I welcome your suggestions, questions and feedback.

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