Rialto Restaurant uses e-mail to build community

Rialto, a regional Italian restaurant based in Cambridge, MA, reopened its doors a year and a half ago after extensive renovations. Since then, the restaurant has been working with e-mail marketing services firm Constant Contact to raise awareness.

Since the reopening, the number of addresses on Rialto’s e-mail list has more than doubled, from 2,500 recipients to 6,000. E-mail addresses are collected in-store as well as on its Web site and through OpenTable, a third-party Web page where customers can make reservations at restaurants in several cities.

“In the restaurant business, hospitality is important,” said Catherine Dry, Rialto’s PR and marketing manager. “We work hard to build relationships, and e-mail helps us maintain those relationships.”

Rialto sends out a monthly e-mail newsletter, which links to a blog written by Jody Adams, Rialto’s owner and chef, about her travels around the world, and about new ingredients that the restaurant is using. It also sends other monthly e-mails as special events come up, including menu updates, cooking classes and wine classes.

“When we relaunched the restaurant, it made sense to develop the brand in cyberspace,” said Adams. “We wanted to build a community, and e-mail was a great way to do that.”

Color, design and photos play a large role in how Rialto’s e-mail messages are communicated.

“Graphic representation is very important, so we are often changing the colors and the look of our e-mails to get people’s attention,” Dry explained.

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