The ease with which you can place kittens with pet buyers is affected by many factors, including how many other breeders live near you, the economy, and the colors and gender of your kittens, to name just a few. Many of these factors you can’t do much about. But one thing you can fix is how the kittens are presented on your website. These are some of the tips, based on perceptual tendencies and how the data shows people use web sites, that have worked for me at one time or another.
Some of these perceptions are:
- People tend to assume that the first kitten you show is your best kitten.
- People don’t like buying the last kitten—I’ve heard it called “the left over” or the “reject” kitten by buyers.
- People tend to believe things that cost more are worth more.
Some of the website preferences:
- People don’t like to scroll down. (Think about how much emphasis there is on being the first few sites on a search engine!)
- Pictures need to be large enough to be easily seen.
- A picture showing just one thing is better than a picture that shows many things.
I’ve found that managing these perceptions on a website can result in better sales. My tips for selling pets on a website follow.
- First of all, if you have kitten that you think may be a breeder-quality kitten, think several times about putting it on your website and about trying other types of advertising instead, such as messages to breeders on Facebook, Yahoo lists, etc. If you must have him or her on your website, say on the website, “Being considered as a possible breeder.” You don’t want to let pet buyers get their expectations and hopes up, and you don’t want a breeder-quality kitten making your other kittens look bad!
- The order in which the kittens appear on your page is important. Place the kitten that you most want to sell (the oldest, the most expensive, the “ugliest!”), at the top of the page. The kitten you most want to sell should be the first kitten visitors see. When that kitten is sold, replace it with the next kitten that you really want to sell.
Also, never have so much “boilerplate” stuff at the top of your page that the kittens start below the first full screen showing on your computer.
- Use one picture (or at least one) of each kitten by itself and make the picture fairly large. It is best to use a picture that is no more than two weeks old. (Yes, that means fairly regular updates.)
- Don’t leave the kittens that you’ve sold on your page. Keep the emphasis on what you have yet to sell, not on what’s been sold. As each kitten is sold, remove it. Visitors can’t help but compare kittens. They will tend to think that kittens that are already sold are better than kittens that have been left unsold, so it’s best not to give them any for comparison.
The only possible exception is if you sell a breeder cat to another cattery. In that case you can have a picture of the cat with “Sold to XXXX Cattery” or “Now enjoying life at XXXX Cattery” or whatever. But still take all the other cats that you’ve sold off your page!
Also, never keep pictures of kittens that you’ve sold with something like “Sold to Anna from Jersey” on them. Visitors will look at your site and think that all the best kittens have been taken!
- If you have sold all but one kitten, put him up by himself without saying that he’s the last one!
- One of the most common complaints visitors to our websites have is that they are frequently out of date. (In fact, some cattery websites are never up-to-date!) It is important to put “Pictures as of Aug. 20, 2012,” “Kittens will be ready for their new homes March 12, 2012,” or something similar at the top of the “what’s available”1 page, and remember to change it each time you change the page. Be sure to give the complete date, not just “In three weeks”—that could be any three weeks of any month or year!
When you have no kittens available, put it on the available page (“No kittens available right now, but come back in October to see our new litter!”). You can put a picture of a previous cute kitten on the web with the announcement if you like
If possible, change the design of the home page enough so that when you have kittens available on inside pages you can say on the home page “Kittens available 6/30/12!” or “Get your kitten for Christmas 2012 now!” so visitors will know it’s worth looking inside. Or, if none are available, announce that on the home page (“We’ll have babies in Fall 2012!”). When writing a few words on the home page, remember to put a date as in the examples.
- If you have more than four kittens available at once, only list four on your page. Replace each one that sells with another.
- Don’t bother putting a picture of the mother and/or father on the “what’s available” page, though you should list their names as parents of the kittens. In my experience, pet buyers really couldn’t care less about the parents—it is what THEIR kitten looks like that excites them. Also, having a picture of one or both parents encourages the “I want one exactly like that!” syndrome, in which a visitor sees one of your breeder cats and insists that he wants one just like it. (Many times I’ve had to bite my tongue to keep from saying that if I have a kitten just like a breeder, it won’t be available as a pet—I’ll either breed it myself or sell it to another breeder!)
- Try giving kittens that aren’t selling a name. (Always say on the website that these are just call names and can be replaced by the buyer.) Call a kitten Fireball (because she runs around), Cloud (because he’s a colored like a cloud), Pounce de Leon (because he’s an explorer), or Cuddles (because she likes to do that), and you’ve increased the likelihood that some people will find him or her enchanting. I’ve found if I use personal names (like William or Amy) the visitor may know someone of that name that they dislike, and therefore not like the kitten as much. Names of fictional persons are okay to use, such as Bart, Homer, and Marge!
- You may have several litters available at the same time. If that’s that case, put something about each litter on the main “what’s available” page with a link to a secondary page about each litter. This will keep viewers from scrolling on and on down the page.
- Put the litters in order of which ones you most want to place first (probably the oldest) on the “what’s available” page.
- For each litter on the “what’s available” page, have one decently large picture of a representative kitten (or of the kitten that you most want to sell from that litter). List that kitten first on the secondary page. As soon as that kitten sells, replace it (on both pages) with another kitten.
- Some breeders have the price of the kittens on their website; others don’t. But if you do, here’s my best tip for selling a kitten, especially one that is better than your average kitten: raise his price by a minimum of $200 or 25%, whichever is more. Leave him, at that price, on your website for a minimum of one month. You won’t have as many buyers asking about him, but probably he’ll be sold just the same because kittens that are priced higher are often perceived as being better.
1This is just a generic term for your main page of kitten sales, not advice on what to call it!
Copyright September 2012 by Nancy Prince. All rights reserved.