Matrix Enhances BTB Web Offerings for Salons

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One benefit of the Internet is that it provides a channel for business-to-business companies to communicate directly with their customers. However, Matrix, a leading supplier of hair-care products to salons, is using its Web site to improve service to clients, who in this case are hair stylists and salon owners.


Matrix, a division of New York-based L'Oreal USA, relaunched matrix.com in June with the goal "to be the No. 1 resource for hair information," said Vivianna Barrera, senior manager of integrated communication at Matrix. The site went live in 2000 and received a cosmetic makeover last year. This was its first significant upgrade.


Matrix.com attracts 500,000 unique consumers monthly and 30,000 salon professionals. Last year, it averaged 15,000 salon professionals monthly.


From a consumer perspective, the new site is mostly about being a source for hairstyle trends. For salon professionals, however, it means providing education on how to use Matrix products, how to create the latest hairstyles and how to drive sales for their businesses.


"We want the site to be a resource for [salon professionals]," Barrera said, adding that it includes many time- and cost-saving features these small, independent businesses can use.


One new section on the revamped site is Market My Salon, where salon owners and managers can create ads online by choosing an image and copy, plugging in their salon's name and address, saving the file and sending it to a local printer.


Matrix also will create a new monthly e-mail alert that salon owners and managers can use by downloading it into their own database of client e-mail addresses and sending it out. Other downloadable items include gift certificates and shelf talkers displays.


By mid-August, 2,000 salons had created their own coupon, Barrera said, and 5,000 ads have been downloaded monthly since the site relaunched.


Matrix isn't requiring salons stocking Matrix products to use these features. But by giving owners and managers tools to help market their salons, "it allows Matrix to control the brand look and image," Barrera said.


Another new feature is a series of live chats with well-known hairstylists. The topics are creative and/or business related, and stylists listening in get to submit questions. While 250 people signed up for the first chat in June, 500 signed up for the one in July. For August, 1,000 stylists signed up. Also, after the chat, the transcript was posted on the site and downloaded more than 15,000 times.


The site also recorded an increase in downloads for its color swatch books after the most recent chat, which focused on hair color technique.


"This implies that colorists are going back to the site after the chats and printing out the color swatch books to learn how to use the color," Barrera said.


Matrix continues to expand efforts to use the Web to improve its relationship with salon professionals. The company began a Web site for salon professionals last month to promote an upcoming trade show. In addition to being able to register for classes and book airfare and hotel, stylists can answer a few questions and get a personalized profile suggesting which classes would be right for them.


Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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