A happy and successful new year likely hinges on how many cars you sell. Here are five tried and true online advertising tips to help you start 2007 on the right foot and keep selling throughout the year.

1. Keep the Price Fresh
As a car ages in your inventory, be sure that the price doesn’t similarly stagnate. Dealers I know tell me they often shop the competition to ensure the price is competitive. If the price is too high vs. similar cars on the market, shoppers think that they won’t get a fair deal. If it’s too low, they think something is wrong with the car.

2. Give Buyers the Complete Picture
If a picture tells a thousand words, just imagine what you can communicate to a potential buyer with multiple photos. Including more than one picture with your listing allows you to tell the car’s full story and for the car shopper to see its exact condition and everything it has to offer. Pictures showing the vehicle in its best light — fresh from a full detailing or more attractive with a new set of tires, for example — further help the customer “fall in the love” with the car and take the next step toward calling for more information or scheduling a test drive.

3. Shine a Spotlight on Your Ads
If you work with third-party providers such as Cars.com or AutoTrader.com, ask about their display advertising capabilities. As we discuss in this month’s DealerADvantage, display advertising can be used to direct car shoppers to specific listings in your inventory based on criteria that you set (e.g., age, make/model and price) or in response to car shopper search requests.

4. Tell More to Sell More
Be sure information about the vehicle goes beyond what the VIN exploder provides. Tell the car shopper what makes your vehicle special by describing its performance characteristics, service history, interior and exterior condition and styling. You also should highlight special features such as custom wheels, aftermarket accessories and warranty packages. Special offers (e.g., “free oil change with a test drive” or “$200 off with this online ad”) also help to generate interest. Better yet, these special offers can help you to track the source of your online traffic.

5. Don’t Let a Good Lead Die
How long do you work Internet leads? If you are only reaching out to lead senders in the moments following their initial inquiry, it’s likely you are leaving business on the table. Because many lead senders take as long as 90 days to close, the most successful dealers work a lead until the car shopper “buys or dies.” These dealers develop a relationship with lead senders and continue to have a dialogue with them until they buy, indicate that they’ve bought somewhere else or say they are no longer in the market.

Resolve to Make the New Year a Success
With a new year upon us, now is the time to make sure your online listings are working as hard as possible. Set aside some time before New Year’s day to review your listings and optimize your efforts using these simple tips. You may also find these updates help with sales during the week after Christmas — a period that many dealers describe as their busiest “month” of the year.