Sotheby’s International Realty unveiled on Thursday a revamped search experience for buyers and sellers. Consumers accessing Sotheby’s International Realty’s desktop and mobile sites will notice easy-to-scroll listing photo galleries, and 15 language translation and 60 currency conversion options. Meanwhile, consumers on Sotheby’s International Realty’s mobile site will also get the option to directly text listing agents.
“With an international presence in 72 countries and territories around the world, Sotheby’s International Realty is the preeminent global luxury real estate brand,” said Sotheby’s International Realty CMO Brad Nelson in a prepared statement. “The new sothebysrealty.com reflects the brand’s international identity and provides our sales associates the best platform to promote their listings and themselves on a global scale.”
“At the heart of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand is a commitment to quality and service,” added Sotheby’s International Realty Global Vice President of Interactive Marketing John Passerini. “We pioneered high-resolution, quality-controlled photography 10 years ago, 3D virtual reality four years ago, and the launch of this new website is a next step in our commitment to those values.”
“Consumers are seeking visual and social media-worthy content, and our fully responsive mobile website reflects this behavior enabling us to market extraordinary properties around the world,” he added.
In a phone call with Inman, Nelson and Passerini explained the motivation for launching a new site, which hinged on making it easier for consumers to view listing content and quickly interact with the company’s 23,000 agents.
“We had a very good website that provided a lot of traffic to us and did all the things that we needed it to do,” Passerini said. “The [old] site served us very well, but what we realized was that we needed an opportunity to really position our real estate professionals advisors.”
“We wanted to combine that content with their expertise so they can really shine,” he added.
After bringing global experience design agency Huge onboard, Nelson, Passerini, and Sotheby’s International Realty’s marketing team embarked on 1.5 year-journey that included focus groups, website data analysis, and a year-long beta testing trial.
“You spend a lot of time upfront learning from your constituents, which for us would not only be real estate clients but real estate agents,” Passerini explained. “And it’s just not real estate agents from our brand; we interviewed real estate agents from all over the globe to get their idea of what would be a great experience for agents and clients as well.”
Out of that came the idea for a mobile listing experience that allows consumers to scroll through photos and videos vertically, something Nelson said is a natural movement for social media-savvy buyers who spend most days scrolling through Instagram and other sites.
“A lot of our experience was really revolved [around] and obsessing about two things,” Nelson said. “First and foremost, we are so fortunate at Sotheby’s International Realty that we have the opportunity to market homes with very unique features.”
“One of the elements that really came through in our research phase was identifying that these unique elements, [whether] it was an architectural detail, a very special feature on an estate property, etc. were the reasons that clients fell in love with the property, but they were very hard to find in an online presentation,” he added. “Part of the goal with the new site was identifying how we could elevate that presentation.”
Nelson and Passerini also discovered consumers wanted an instant way to communicate with agents. So, at the bottom of every mobile listing page is an icon consumers can click to text an agent.
“Many times it’s easier to shoot someone a text than it is to fill out a form where you’re typing your name and email address,” Nelson said.
Lastly, the duo said they wanted to improve international consumers’ experience on the site with 60 currency conversion options and 15 translations created by native speakers.
“We’re a global brand in 72 countries, and we need to make sure that we’re providing a great experience for wherever a person is coming from or whatever language they speak,” Passerini said. “[Real estate] includes very nuanced language and you can’t just run it through a translation machine and get it right.”
The revamped site has only been up for a day, but Nelson said the feedback from agents and consumers has been positive.
“The feedback has been incredibly positive and I’ve got to say that’s quite rewarding,” he said. “There wasn’t a single company, a single country or a single part of the world that was not part of our beta and feedback process.”
“Part of our philosophy is there’s no monopoly on good ideas, and as a global brand, so many of those different perspectives can help create a more useful search tool for a consumer,” he concluded. “So our entire network of 23,000 agents in more than 70 countries was invited to participate and really contributed to the functionality of the site today.”