Reputable dog breeders know their puppies and know them well. The challenge for most breeders is that they don’t know how to effectively advertise their puppies for sale online. In this article, we’ll cover the main ways dog breeders and classified-style sites can sell puppies online to maximize exposure and sales volume through digital marketing.
As the saying goes, there’s never a second chance for a first impression. Even though there are plenty of options for getting a “template” site online quickly for a nominal monthly fee through major puppies for sale websites, we have found the most successful breeder and kennel operators opt for their own custom, conversion-focused website to promote their puppies for sale.
Having your own site gives you complete control and autonomy over creative and content, which allows people looking for your types of puppies to become engaged with your site and your brand. From there, your potential new customers can be funnelled through the conversion process of inquiring about puppies of interest via contact form submissions, inbound phone calls, or any other conversion funnels you may have set up to capture them as leads.
Here’s an example of a site we developed for Maryland Puppies Online:
As you can see from the above homepage layout, the main areas Maryland Puppies Online wants potential adoptive parents to navigate to are all clearly showcased which has helped this client maximize puppy sales via conversion-focused website design.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing
If you need to sell puppies quickly and/or consistently, we always recommend our clients pursue an active Pay-Per-Click marketing campaign on search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!
PPC ads typically appear at the top and at the bottom of search results for just about any keyword phrase and look like this:
As the name indicates, each time someone clicks on your ad, you are charged on a “per-click” basis which is entirely dictated on an auction based platform where you bid against your competition on keywords and phrases. The PPC fees vary widely between search engine platforms and on the types of phrases and matching options you’ve selected. Typically, PPC fees for a phrase such as “puppies for sale” is around $.60/click, but gets about 112,000 searches monthly here in the US. That’s a lot of volume and can potentially get expensive quickly. Also, keep in mind this doesn’t include any breed-type targeting options such as “labradoodle puppies”, which fetches $1/click and has a monthly US search volume of about 9,500 searches.
If you’re not careful, PPC marketing can quickly get out of control and if not properly structured and consistently maintained, you could be driving traffic and paying for clicks to your site that simply aren’t relevant which can decrease your return-on-investment substantially. An experienced PPC expert, especially one that has worked in the puppies for sale vertical, will know how to optimize your campaign and allow you to maximize your ROI.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO, also known as “organic” or “natural” search is one of the most cost effective marketing endeavors your breeder kennel can pursue to consistently be found from an eager audience proactively searching for your puppy breeds online. However, unlike PPC which provides instant placement in search results, SEO requires both ongoing technical skills and a LOT of patience since it can take anywhere from 3-6+ months to get page one listings for your most important keyword phrases. Think “marathon”, not “sprint” with SEO.
In conducting SEO for our clients, the main areas we focus on (and so should you) include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Technical SEO (CMS coding tweaks to platforms such as WordPress)
- Unique content creation and optimization
- Page Titles
- Meta Descriptions
- Alt Text (image descriptors)
- Internal Linking via Anchor Text (hyperlinking of words and phrases on pages)
- H1’s and H2’s
- Blogging & Content Marketing (publishing a minimum of one blog post per month at no less than 500 words each)
- Inbound Link Acquisition (acquiring links from third party sites linking back to theirs)
If you’re just starting up a website and digital marketing strategy for promoting your puppies for sale through the web, we strongly suggest getting an SEO campaign up and running ASAP while you use other marketing venues such as PPC to drive traffic and to sell puppies quickly. If you delay SEO for your business, you’re only going to further delay the ability to glean results from organic search by a factor of three months at a minimum for every day you wait. In other words, get an SEO plan put together and started right away.
Google My Business (Local SEO)
If you’re operating a kennel or a breeding facility, chances are you want to have potential customers visit your puppies for sale or pick them up after a purchase since most reputable breeders require pickup by buyers vs. “shipping” dogs to their new forever homes. Because of this, we always recommend clients aggressively pursue a Google My Business optimization strategy to pull in local buyers.
Simply “claiming” your Google My Business profile and plugging in your basic business information such as company name, address, phone number, hours of operation, and payment types accepted simply isn’t enough to climb up the ranks and appear in the prized “3-pack” as shown above.
In order to appear higher on the list of local search, your business will need to build local business citations and continue to add valuable content to your Google My Business profile including new images, videos, offers, and cross promotion of your blog posts among other tasks.
Please note Google My Business is NOT the only local business listing you should claim although it does get the lion’s share of visibility activity potential. We also suggest claiming and optimizing your business listings on Bing, Yahoo! and Apple as well.
If you ‘re trying to sell puppies locally, which is very common, and want to be found through local search engine searches, Google My Business optimization and local SEO, in general, should be a top priority for your business.
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing is a must-have digital marketing venue for breeders and puppies for sale classified sites to have in their marketing arsenal. We can say this with great confidence because our breeder and classified clients continue to see their fan base grow and puppies getting sold week after week and month after month through regular content contribution on their social profiles and sustained post “boosting” and Social Media advertising.
Social Media Marketing is a fantastic way to promote and sell your puppies to a targeted audience where they congregate and share information regularly. However, the keys to a successful social strategy is to first establish a strategy based on your target audience (demographics, geographic considerations, etc.) and then executing it. If you think simply having social profiles with periodic updates is enough to gain fans, likes, shares, and puppy sales, you would be wrong. We highly recommend you seek out an agency with multiple case studies working with dog breeder clientele.
There are tons of Social Media sites out there, but the ones we’ve seen consistently produce puppy sales are Facebook and Instagram. Other platforms such as Twitter and Pinterest are okay to have a presence, but they don’t produce many sales due to the nature of their user base.
Other than setting up and optimizing your Facebook and Instagram profile and regularly contributing and promoting content, we’ve also seen clients have great success getting involved with and/or listing their puppies for sale on Facebook Groups as well:
Remarketing and Display
If you’re running ads on Google or Facebook and are getting traffic to your site in general, it’s important to keep your breeder’s brand top-of-mind for those visitors who came to your site but never committed to inquiring or purchasing a puppy and just left the site. This was your only chance to sell them, right?
Wrong. Segue Remarketing and Display Advertising…
When visitors come to your site and leave without committing, this is a great opportunity for your company to follow them around the web and keep your brand in front of them for days and weeks to follow. Search engines such as Google and social platforms such as Facebook offer remarketing and display ad options that will ensure that even though someone may not have inquired about one of your dogs for sale at the time of their first visit to your site, they may be ready to commit to buying a puppy at a later date. So, by keeping your brand and puppies for sale messaging in regular view of previous visitors to your site by utilizing remarketing and display ads, you increase the probability of them inquiring or purchasing from your breeder service vs. another or classified site.
Vertical Directories & Classifieds
A lot of breeders have success simply adding their puppies for sale to vertical sites and calling it a day. That’s fine if your operating a small outfit and only produce litters in small quantities to sell annually. For these types of kennel operators and for clients who are looking to maximize their exposure online, we always suggest listing their puppies for sale on vertical directories and classified puppies for sale sites to canvas the marketplace more thoroughly.
There are a lot of directories and classified puppy for sale sites on the web, but the ones we’ve found to be most beneficial and appear to be the most ethical include sources such as PuppyFinder.com, PuppySpot.com, LittlePuppiesOnline.com, among others. Not all of these sites accept new breeders looking to sell their particular type of dog breed, so do your homework prior to reaching out to them.
Our suggestion to all breeders who are looking to ‘go it alone’ in marketing their puppies is to look at all available directory and classified service options in the space and do your own vetting prior to having your kennel put your puppies for sale on these sites.
Optimized Press Releases (PR)
Press releases may seem like a silly idea to some, but we’ve seen press releases work exceptionally well with our breeder clients. If you’re curious as to why press releases work in not just promoting a brand, but in selling puppies in their own right, let’s look at how writing, optimizing, and disseminating press releases impacts a brand in terms of exposure and sales.
Optimized PR has a multiplier effect unlike other online marketing techniques and includes the following benefits to breeders:
- Each PR that is sent out provides you with the ability to link back to a specific page on your site which directly impacts Search Engine Optimization
- When PR is done regularly, it often leads to natural inbound links to your site by people coming across your press releases and may be doing a follow-up piece on your kennel or breeding practice, blog post, or mention of your breeder program on their sites
- Creates new traffic channels to your site from people reading and clicking on links in PRs on the sites syndicating your press releases
- Optimized PR show up at the top of News search results on search engines such as Google & Bing
- When properly optimized, PRs often rank naturally in search engine results for a plethora of relevant keyword phrase variations
As listed above, optimized PR is far reaching in terms of impact values and is a secret weapon in the digital marketing arsenal of successful breeders and classified site owners selling puppies online.
We hear this a lot: Email marketing is dead! But it’s not. Successful breeders know emails are pure gold when it comes to keeping in regular contact with people interested in their breed of dog but may not have made a purchase when they originally reached out to inquire through a website form which captured their email address.
All too often, breeders forget about conducting periodic follow-ups to old prospects via email to make them aware of new litters, new locations, events, and other news related to their kennel. Believe it or not, when you do quarterly newsletters/email outreach to old prospects, it’s not uncommon for someone to reach back out to you and potentially purchase one of your puppies.
If you’re a breeder or are operating a classified site trying to sell puppies online and you’re not convinced you’re maximizing your exposure and sales online, give us a call for a free, no-obligation consultation and digital marketing assessment.
If we find your marketing is in excellent condition and doesn’t need anything, we’ll tell you. If we find gaps in your strategy, we’ll tell you what they are and (of course) how we can help.