Field & Stream Packages Existing Content into Seasonal Venison Newsletter
In the great shift to consumer revenue, publishers are experimenting with newsletter products that provide content and services specific to reader interests. Keeping with this trend, outdoor publication Field & Stream, a Bonnier Corporation brand, launched a seasonal newsletter called The Venison Course on Nov. 1. Sent daily and only during November, the newsletter delivers venison recipes and kitchen gear recommendations to subscribers at the peak of deer-hunting season.
A newsletter dedicated to cooking one type of wild game meat may sound niche, but it caters to a large portion of the Field & Stream audience, says Editor-in-Chief Colin Kearns.
“White-tailed deer is by far the most popular species of game animal that our audience likes to hunt, so I knew the seasonal timing of it was right, and I knew it was going to be a popular topic.”
Kearns got the idea for a month-long, hyper-specific newsletter series from fellow Bonnier brand Popular Science, which launched a 30-day newsletter earlier this year called Digital Deep-Clean. Unrolled for spring cleaning season, that newsletter sent subscribers daily tips for managing their spam folders, securing their data, and accomplishing other digital ‘cleaning’ tasks.
While Kearns knew he wanted to replicate the concept for a wild game-themed newsletter in November, he says tailoring it around venison was editorial intuition. Like organizing your email inbox, butchering and preparing venison is often a daunting task.
“It can be intimidating once you do get a deer and you have all this delicious meat, but you’re not sure how to cook all of it,” says Kearns. “What we tried to do here was compile a whole bunch of different recipes and cooking tips that readers might not have ever tried before, just give them something to add variety to the meals they’re cooking with this hard-won wild game meat that they brought home to their family.”
Content, Commerce, Clicks
Field & Stream targeted The Venison Course to subscribers in its current weekly newsletter base who have interests in hunting, fishing, or deer hunting. Of the roughly 300,000 people on the total list, about 69,000 received the new daily offering for November. As of Nov. 26, the seasonal series has more than 73,000 subscribers with an average open rate of 46.06% and a click rate of 33.76%.
“The stats we’re seeing are pretty good,” says Kearns. “I could see us doing a monthly newsletter like this maybe once a season.”
The Venison Course contains mostly existing Field & Stream content; Kearns’ team updated some of that content with fresh artwork, current gear reviews, and newer recipes. While the newsletter includes a small number of personal essays, Kearns says it is 80% recipes. The other 20% is butchering tips and recommendations of relevant kitchen appliances, such as smokers and meat grinders.
“For a lot, if not all, of the gear we’re recommending we’re sending links through Amazon,” says Kearns. “That plays in line with our affiliate content strategy, so that is something we’re hoping to capitalize on with this.”
The recipe content differs from that of major food media brands, as well as competitive publications in the hunting and fishing media landscape, notes Kearns.
“This is wild venison and you don’t see much wild game cooking content in brands like Bon Appétit or any other traditional food magazine, so that right there sets us apart,” says Kearns. “Our competitors all feature recipes, too, but I would say where we’re different is we do challenge our readers a little more with our recipes than other hunting brands will do.”
For example, some recipes promoted in The Venison Course take several hours to prepare or call for ingredients that aren’t pantry essentials. Others are favorite venison recipes shared by prominent chefs.
“We know that our core audience is deer hunters and fall is when they’re constantly looking for new tips or new gear recommendations,” says Kearns. “We’re giving them plenty of hunting service on our website and in the magazine. This is just another channel of deer hunting related content that we can give to keep them engaged.”
Leah Wynalek is the senior editor for Publishing Executive and Book Business. She has worked at national magazine publishing companies including Trusted Media Brands and Rodale, where she assisted in digital content creation and strategy for Prevention.com. More recently, she used her multimedia skillset on behalf of clients as a content specialist for Philadelphia-based marketing agency En Route.