Spas and salon advertisers are a huge focus for local sites. They’re a Top 4 selection for Citysearch, and also rank highly on Yelp and other sites. Now they are being specifically targeted by InnerRewards, a new health and wellness vertical site for women launched by Julie Elaine Brown, a veteran marketer for Johnson & Johnson’s online community sites.
While local advertisers are being targeted, the content will not be especially local. Nor will articles or sections be branded under city names, although there are local directories within the site, and searches can include city name keywords (i.e., “spas, Phoenix”).
That’s all by design. It goes beyond the standard need of vertical sites not to break up a start-up’s slim audience among a bunch of city sites, says Brown. Many potential advertisers, like Canyon Ranch, are national destination sites. Allowing users to focus on cities would exclude their presence.
In the same spirit, pay-per-click models won’t be used for advertising. “The PPC model is not conducive to building a community,” says Brown.
To date, the site has lined up some seed funding ($1 million) and a team of online pros, and has opened offices in New York and San Francisco. It as also lined up 20 “business partners,” mostly spas.
Ultimately, the goal is to provide holistic lifestyle solutions for women aged 30 to 55 — the online personification, perhaps, of Whole Foods’ appeal.
Clearly, InnerRewards has its eyes on the 15 percent to 25 percent of revenues that wellness businesses spend on marketing. It refers to itself as an “e-commerce site.” For businesses, InnerRewards is providing category-specific directories, enhanced by video. It also hopes to provide one-stop logistics, including gift certificates (perhaps similar to spaboom), online calendaring, analytics, etc.
Eventually, the site hopes to offer advanced services. These might include an “advanced B2B referral system,” as well as mobile appointment alerts, and synchronous video for live counseling and classes.
Content-wise, the site will feature columns, articles and reviews on broad horizontal subjects such as spas, yoga and Pilates. That should make it appeal to the likes of Gaiam, the mega-seller of Yoga peripherals. Food, nutrition and Chinese acupuncture are also popular subjects.
User-generated content is also expected to be a major feature of the site. Users can populate Facebook-like “Topic” pages. The site will also offer reviews for spas; mind/body fitness; aesthetic facial surgeons; natural medicine; complementary alternative medicine; and products (organic food, vitamins, herbs, hair and body care). A key incentive for reviewers: incremental discounts for spas with every review turned in.
To me, the site is attractive (and of course, it features the now standard pictures of the omnipresent, “contented” 30-year-old woman model as the standard bearer). The site may be of a sure shot if it attracted a couple of major media partners (like a Whole Foods).