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Geek Build IDX Interview – Displet Founder Eric Bramlett

Drew Meyers and I spent an hour with Eric Bramlett discussing the ins and outs of the Displet IDX and how the Geek Build participants may apply it for their new real estate sites.  Below is the totally unedited conversation between the three of us where we have Eric answer some tough questions.

I would encourage Real Geeks and Diverse Solutions to respond in the comments where we can hold the rest of the conversation.  The steering committee will be announcing their official decision very soon so now is the time to say what you need to say.

But first, the interview…

[7:01:38 PM] Daniel Beer: So let’s just dive in and talk about the way your product is designed out of the box…

[7:01:49 PM] Eric Bramlett: Sounds good.

[7:02:37 PM] Daniel Beer: I know there is a lot of customization that is possible but what is the thinking behind the way you have put the base product together?  What motivation drove the design the most?

[7:02:42 PM] Eric Bramlett: For the amount of time the Geek Build webmasters will put into their respective projects, I recommend they go with either our Displet Pro or Displet Pro Custom products.

[7:03:30 PM] Eric Bramlett: When we make a development decision, we always ask ourselves two questions: Will this help the agent drive more leads, and can we make it a customizable option?

[7:04:12 PM] Eric Bramlett: The same lead generation techniques seem to work in most markets, but agents often choose to approach lead generation differently.

[7:04:56 PM] Eric Bramlett: So, when we design a new feature, we always add it as a customizable option in the backend.

[7:05:23 PM] Daniel Beer: When you design a new feature is it automatically included for all exisiting clients?

[7:05:30 PM] Eric Bramlett: Yes.

[7:05:30 PM] Drew Meyers: my next questions centers around the CRM capability – either your own custom CRM or hooking displet to other crms such as top producer/wiseagent/salesforce. what options are built in?

[7:06:17 PM] Eric Bramlett: We hook into Realtiva out of the box, and agents can use our email BCC feature to hook into other CRMs like Heap or RealtyJuggler.

[7:06:47 PM] Eric Bramlett: If a CRM has a robust API, we can hook into it pretty easily, so it only takes a couple of agents to request a CRM and we’ll build a hook for it.

[7:07:55 PM] Eric Bramlett: We do have our own CRM features, but we’ve focused on the front end initially, and are just tackling more robust CRM features.

[7:08:30 PM] Drew Meyers: how about tracking which of your contacts are viewing what properties on your IDX? do clients have easy access to how many times people are logging in, and what saved searches those specific people have setup?

[7:08:38 PM] Eric Bramlett: Yes – absolutely.

[7:09:00 PM] Eric Bramlett: We log every property view & every login.

[7:09:24 PM] Daniel Beer: So is it fair to say that at least for now an agent that is very serious about online lead conversion, as we can assume our Geek Build participants are, should account for the cost of Realtiva or another CRM

[7:09:50 PM] Eric Bramlett: If they already have traffic, or have plans to buy traffic immediately, then yes.

[7:10:26 PM] Eric Bramlett: If they’re building the site out and taking the organic (SEO) route, then they’ll see new CRM features released at the end of the summer that will take care of 90% of agents’ needs.

[7:11:21 PM] Daniel Beer: Let’s talk about your Displet Pro Custom solution…

[7:11:27 PM] Eric Bramlett: Sure.

[7:11:50 PM] Daniel Beer: How do the customizations to the property details pages get done and how are they paid for?

[7:12:04 PM] Daniel Beer: does each Displet client hire their own designer or do you sell design hours?

[7:12:27 PM] Eric Bramlett: The Displet Pro Custom solution has the expensive setup ($699) because we include design hours.

[7:12:35 PM] Eric Bramlett: It’s the same product as Displet Pro ($99 setup)

[7:12:57 PM] Eric Bramlett: If an agent has a designer who is proficient with html5 & css3, then we recommend they go with our less expensive setup.

[7:13:24 PM] Eric Bramlett: Displet Pro Custom includes search, list, and detail page customizations.

[7:14:07 PM] Eric Bramlett: We provide a list of available display fields and search fields for the agent’s market, get input, and start designing.

[7:14:39 PM] Eric Bramlett: Modifying search fields is a drag and drop in the backend, so it’s super easy for an agent to customize that in the future, but the property details page requires html/css know-how.

[7:14:48 PM] Daniel Beer: I would love to see an example of a site or two with a decent amount of customizations just to see how different it can get from the out of the box solution

[7:15:26 PM] Eric Bramlett: Sure. is one solution we designed.

[7:15:51 PM] Eric Bramlett: is a solution that Virtual Results did.

[7:16:31 PM] Eric Bramlett: We’ve not had an agent ask for it, but you could choose to include only the map view, rather than list view for your main search screen. We’re making a core modification that will allow you to choose a switch between map/list/split screen.

[7:17:02 PM] Eric Bramlett: The sky is the limit with the property details page. You can place whatever you would like, wherever you would like on that page.

[7:17:31 PM] Eric Bramlett: We don’t include heavy javascript customization with the Pro Custom setup, but if someone wanted to really get crazy, you can do a ton of stuff with the custom JS option.

[7:17:37 PM] Daniel Beer: There is an ongoing discussion right now in the post comments regarding list view vs map view.  Which do you prefer?

[7:17:52 PM] Daniel Beer: I know you have the ability to use both

[7:18:04 PM] Eric Bramlett: I personally like to search by map, but don’t have data to point me one way or the other.

[7:18:24 PM] Drew Meyers: what sort of speed can Displet clients expect? particularly on the mapping features – how do you ensure quick load times at all times?

[7:18:35 PM] Eric Bramlett: I’ve found that the highest converting pages are neighborhood / popular search landing pages, so really focus attention on creating and driving traffic to those.

[7:18:52 PM] Eric Bramlett: As our database has grown, we’ve experienced some speed issues.

[7:19:44 PM] Eric Bramlett: We’re about 2 weeks away from deploying SOLR search, which will replace mysql search on our backend. Conceptually, this gets us down to 2-3 second load time, so let’s hope that concepts ring true. 🙂

[7:20:57 PM] Daniel Beer: sounds like your company is in the middle of a big growth stage

[7:21:07 PM] Drew Meyers: how many markets are you now in?

[7:21:11 PM] Eric Bramlett: 42

[7:21:49 PM] Drew Meyers: yeah – I’d say that’s quite a bit of growth since you and i talked about that number. i believe last time, it was less than 20

[7:21:57 PM] Drew Meyers: can’t remember for certain

[7:22:03 PM] Eric Bramlett: Yes. I think that’s right.

[7:22:20 PM] Eric Bramlett: Growth is always exciting and challenging.

[7:22:42 PM] Drew Meyers: and if someone wants Displet and you aren’t already in their market – what’s the cost/process to get Displet setup?

[7:24:51 PM] Eric Bramlett: We have to get with their board and make sure it makes financial sense for us to enter. Oftentimes, we’ll ask the agent to share any RETS fees. From there, we get some paperwork to the board & get the feed. After we have the feed, we usually have the market live in 4 weeks. If our queue is light, it’s shorter, but if we have a lot in the queue, it can take a little longer.

[7:26:07 PM] Daniel Beer: what kind of support can a Displet customer expect?  Correct me if I am wrong but I believe you are a full time Reatlor.  Who tends to the business day in and day out?

[7:26:33 PM] Eric Bramlett: We have a full time support guy, and we support as efficiently as possible.

[7:27:09 PM] Eric Bramlett: We can typically respond to any question with a video tutorial we’ve already created.

[7:27:24 PM] Eric Bramlett: If the video tutorial doesn’t exist, then we create it and shoot it over.

[7:27:59 PM] Eric Bramlett: I am a producing broker, so my time is pretty sparse/valuable.

[7:28:41 PM] Eric Bramlett: But since I use the products to pay my own bills, and more importantly vacations, I’m incredibly invested in creating something that works, and improving upon it.

[7:28:54 PM] Drew Meyers: what is Displet doing with mobile?

[7:29:05 PM] Eric Bramlett: planning for it 🙂

[7:29:26 PM] Eric Bramlett: It’s my opinion that the mobile numbers are growing in large part due to tablets.

[7:29:57 PM] Eric Bramlett: We render well on a 1084px screen, which is landscape view in ipad.

[7:31:12 PM] Eric Bramlett: We’re not ignoring handhelds, but I’ve not seen anyone generate leads because of handheld features. They’re cool, but in the same way QR codes are cool, in my opinion.

[7:32:40 PM] Drew Meyers: i do agree the hype is a little bit ahead of its time. mobile traffic is certainly increasing, but it’s still not a high % of overall traffic on agent/broker sites (that i have analytics access to)

[7:33:17 PM] Eric Bramlett: Right. It’s very cool, and I think that it’s something that’s important to plan for, but I don’t think it will have much impact on an agent’s success.

[7:33:41 PM] Eric Bramlett: This is purely speculative, but I think that people search for specific properties on the fly from their phones.

[7:34:00 PM] Eric Bramlett: I’ve not personally been on a platform that was enjoyable to really search for real estate on.

[7:34:14 PM] Eric Bramlett: Though I think it can be very enjoyable to casually search from a tablet.

[7:35:21 PM] Eric Bramlett: If I’m in the field with a client, I’ll use the mobile app to look for nearby properties, but it can be frustrating because of connection speed (sometimes) and screen size (always.) Oftentimes, I’ll just break out the macbook and can find what I’m looking for much faster than tapping through it.

[7:35:32 PM] Eric Bramlett: I don’t know, though, maybe it’s because I’m over 30.

[7:36:10 PM] Daniel Beer: I can say that I do think Diverse Solutions does a great job with mobile but they had to because their framed solution was not very good on handheld or tablet.  I agree that some designs work plenty well on mobile without having to officially be mobile.  Displet is more suited to that.

[7:37:20 PM] Eric Bramlett: I think it’s important to segregate Ipad/tablets from the rest of the mobile field.

[7:37:39 PM] Eric Bramlett: Browsing from a tablet is drastically different from browsing on a phone, but they’re still lumped in with phones.

[7:37:41 PM] Eric Bramlett:

[7:38:20 PM] Eric Bramlett: Ipad makes up almost half of the total in those stats.

[7:38:35 PM] Daniel Beer: What Displet feature may the Geek Build participants and steering committee be overlooking that offers real value for your clients.

[7:39:15 PM] Eric Bramlett: Property filters, agent vs. mls defined areas, customizable search fields, and property suggestions.

[7:40:10 PM] Eric Bramlett: The property filter allows you to select a subset of the market that you want to include in your index. So, if you don’t like working $100k properties an hour away from you, you simply exclude that price point & zip code or city.

[7:40:30 PM] Eric Bramlett: We’ve found that MLS defined “areas” are typically pretty poor, and that different agents define areas within their market differently.

[7:40:52 PM] Eric Bramlett: Agent defined areas allows you to create different “areas” by zip code, and then present those areas to your clients.

[7:41:10 PM] Daniel Beer: Tell me more about property suggestions

[7:41:16 PM] Daniel Beer: How does that work?

[7:41:18 PM] Eric Bramlett: Okay.

[7:41:30 PM] Eric Bramlett: We log everything that any user ever views.

[7:41:55 PM] Eric Bramlett: So we created a customizable algorithm that sends similar properties to what that user views as an automatic property search.

[7:42:10 PM] Daniel Beer: Got it

[7:42:23 PM] Eric Bramlett: So, if you login to my search and begin looking at 1500s.f. condos in downtown Austin that are around $500k, we’ll send you properties in downtown austin that are close in size & price.

[7:42:56 PM] Eric Bramlett: It’s a pretty effective follow up tool. I buy stuff on Amazon because of their similar feature all the time.

[7:43:34 PM] Eric Bramlett: Oh – I breezed over our WP plugins. We have a couple of really nice WordPress plugins that allow you to create killer landing pages.

[7:43:55 PM] Daniel Beer: Like for particular neighborhoods or what kind?

[7:43:55 PM] Eric Bramlett: Here’s an example:

[7:44:25 PM] Daniel Beer: That is very nice

[7:44:26 PM] Eric Bramlett: You’ll notice you can require registration for details o those pages.

[7:44:31 PM] Eric Bramlett: *on those pages

[7:44:45 PM] Daniel Beer: looks like the landing page for condos all in a building called 360?

[7:44:53 PM] Eric Bramlett: Correct.

[7:44:56 PM] Daniel Beer: what did it take to create that page/

[7:45:30 PM] Eric Bramlett: Here’s a video on it:

[7:45:39 PM] Eric Bramlett: You can do pretty much whatever you’d like to.

[7:45:56 PM] Eric Bramlett: Here are green construction homes:

[7:46:53 PM] Eric Bramlett: Here are waterfront homes on Lake Austin (as opposed to nearby Lake Travis)

[7:46:57 PM] Daniel Beer: Impressive.  Can you control the title tags or are they automatically populated?

[7:47:24 PM] Eric Bramlett: The title tags of the landing page or the property details page?

[7:47:55 PM] Daniel Beer: landing page

[7:48:01 PM] Daniel Beer: heck, both now that you are asking

[7:48:09 PM] Eric Bramlett: The landing page is a WordPress page, so you can control the entire page.

[7:48:23 PM] Eric Bramlett: You insert the listings & the stats widget wherever you want them.

[7:48:38 PM] Eric Bramlett: The property details page is on the RETS/IDX app, so you have to control it separately.

[7:49:04 PM] Eric Bramlett: The title tags there operate using liquid elements. So my title tag settings for the details page looks like this:

[7:49:06 PM] Eric Bramlett: {{address}} {{city}}, {{state}} {{zip}} | MLS# {{propertyid}} | {{subdivision}}

[7:49:42 PM] Eric Bramlett: And the meta description settings look like this:

[7:49:42 PM] Eric Bramlett: {{address}} {{city}}, {{state}} {{zip}} is a {{bed}} Bedroom, {{bath}} Bathroom home in {{subdivision}}, built in {{yearbuilt}}. The property is {{squarefoot}}*SF and *{{stories}} story. Call Now! (512) 850-5717

[7:50:00 PM] Daniel Beer: That’s great.  So you pretty much have control of just about eveything

[7:50:12 PM] Eric Bramlett: As close as we can get to everything.

[7:50:36 PM] Eric Bramlett: There are some limitations that we usually find out about when an agent requests one. 🙂

[7:50:54 PM] Eric Bramlett: But we’re always happy to custom program, as long as the agent will pay for the hours.

[7:51:50 PM] Daniel Beer: Drew you have anything additional for Eric?

[7:53:20 PM] Daniel Beer: Well I do have one last question…

[7:53:43 PM] Drew Meyers: you’ve covered it from my end

[7:55:12 PM] Daniel Beer: It is no secret that we are using this interview to help select the official IDX provider that will be recommended by the steering committee for Geek Build….

[7:56:02 PM] Daniel Beer: You have the floor.  Tell what gives Displet the edge over the alternatives but please do so respectuflly

[7:56:23 PM] Daniel Beer: what sets you apart

[7:58:52 PM] Eric Bramlett: Sure. What sets us apart is our passion for conversion, and our customization options. Our system is pleasant and effective to search with, so converts on its own. Our WordPress plugins allow the webmaster to create really killer landing pages that convert extremely well. Creating great neighborhood and custom search landing pages is the new “farming” technique. In the past, you would send out mailers. Today, you create awesome landing pages and then drive traffic organically, through PPC, and by targeting zip codes and age groups in Facebook.

[7:59:15 PM] Eric Bramlett: Our system allows you to create these pages, and then choose the conversion settings that are the best for your market.

[8:00:09 PM] Eric Bramlett: Our system allows third party developers to build off of our core, and to customize what’s already been built on an agents system or site. We welcome third party dev’s with open arms and are excited when someone outside of our company builds something cool with our system.

[8:00:45 PM] Eric Bramlett: As such, you’re not bound to us for future customizations, but you can shop around to whoever you would like when you want something new.

[8:02:06 PM] Eric Bramlett: When Google+ launched, we had a number of agents ask how much we would charge to add it to their details page. Our minimum is an hour ($100), so I put together this tutorial and then said than anyone who still wants us to insert it is welcome to hire us.

[8:02:42 PM] Eric Bramlett: So….conversion & customization options. Those are what set us apart.

[8:02:51 PM] Eric Bramlett: Thanks a ton for the opportunity to chat today.

[8:03:37 PM] Eric Bramlett: I’m really excited to see what Geek Build produces. It’s a heckuva collaborative effort.

[8:04:22 PM] Daniel Beer: Thanks for your time as well and good luck with the company!  You’re doing some very cool things

[8:04:47 PM] Daniel Beer: Appreciate it man.  Drew good night or day or whatever it is for you

[8:04:55 PM] Eric Bramlett: Thank you guys.

[8:05:00 PM] Eric Bramlett: Enjoy your evening/day!

Note from the Editor: Not sure what Geek Build 2012 is? It’s building a few real estate websites from scratch publicly with the help of the Geek Estate Community and overseen by an experienced steering committeeRead more about Geek Build 2012 here, or view all posts related to Geek Build 2012 here.

**Geek Build logo designed by Dominic Morrocco at M Squared Real Estate.

About Daniel Beer

Daniel is a San Diego real estate agent focusing on Santaluz homes for sale. He also has a passion for helping people moving to San Diego and introducing them to the city he loves.

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