Real estate websites have a problem. They all share the same information – for instance, photos of bedrooms and square footage details — which makes it hard to stand out. New York-based Concierge Auctions, until recently, had a similar problem. The site, which functions as a buying and selling portal for high-end luxury properties all over the globe, caters to sellers, owners and real estate professionals – people who want to be wowed and courted.
While the site was successful — since its inception in 2008, it handled almost $1 billion worth of transactions – its unique business model meant it needed a way to stand out. Unlike other sites that simply list properties for sale, Concierge markets properties for 30 days. At the end of the marketing period, the properties are sold via auction. This means the site’s property pages — which use text, video and images to sell the real estate offerings — must be appealing and factually complete. The property pages must also be seen as the main source for information for the property, says Jacob Cantele, Concierge Auction’s CTO. Unfortunately, that always wasn’t the case – at least in the past. There simply wasn’t enough content being generated and what was generated was duplicated all over the web, he says.
“We would have a photographer go out and shoot the property, and every other real estate site out there was picking up our content, cross-posting it,” he explains. “Very rarely were we ever able to have our property pages be treated as the official source of that information, even though we were the ones who created it.” Especially since those sites were also picking up the text that was written by Concierge Auctions marketing staffers.
In June 2014, Concierge Auctions started working with Rock Content in order to generate more content that would be unique to the site and contribute to its overall search engine optimization strategy. They were also looking for a way to build more dynamic, ongoing relationships with its customers, says Cantele. Another must-have: Concierge Auctions wanted a better way to track how long a potential buyer spent looking at a specific property to help it determine their level of interest. “That’s really important to us,” says Cantele.
Building off APIs
One of the biggest draws for Concierge Auctions was the fact that Rock Content was willing to partner with it and update and develop its API to integrate with its website.
“We have a pretty advanced development staff,” explains Cantele. “and a platform that’s built from the ground up using Node.js and React.js. It’s really important for us that any form of content curating tool we’re working with is going to heavily leverage those products through their APIs.”
Concierge Auctions really appreciated that Rock Content was willing to add a new set of fields to its API, helping to transform the property pages immediately. “That enabled us to manipulate content in ways that, to borrow a phrase, ‘whatever we can dream we can do.’ That’s the kind of experience we want to have and what we’re getting working with the company.”
The site is now able to generate new content including photographs as well as documents and text in a way that is unique and specific to Concierge Auctions. There’s also a section where people can go to see what’s new with a particular property, says Cantele. “If you go to the LiveUpdate section on our property pages, which is possible because of Rock Content technology, you should see one piece of new content daily, which is added by our sales team,” he says. This includes new photos, videos and other interactive elements that really sell the property. These features also boost the site’s search engine rankings, he says. “By including Rock Content in our strategy, we are able to produce content that it doesn’t get cross-posted anywhere, and that helps increase the likelihood that Google is going to consider the canonical source of this content.”
However, it’s the buyer’s experience that really matters and that, says Cantele, is what has really been transformed by Rock Content.
“We can build an online experience of telling a family of what it would be like to live somewhere. It gives them a sense of the kinds of moments and experiences that they could have at a property,” he says. “Plus, when you’re able to generate new content and the customer knows that there will be new content posted daily, it gives him or her reason to come back often and think of our company as a partner in their real estate transactions.”