From Traffic to Profits: The Evolution and Automation of Online Marketing Tactics

Online marketing tactics have changed a lot over the years. Old ones die out, replaced by new ones, only then to resurge back into the mainstream marketing meta. And the cycle repeats this way in many ways.

Previously, the primary goal of online marketing was to generate as much traffic as possible. Today, the focus is not just on attracting visitors but converting them into engaged customers who contribute to a higher return on investment (ROI).

Artificial intelligence (AI) is important in this change. By automating simple tasks and improving personalization, AI helps marketers focus on strategy and creativity, leading to higher ROI.

This article will explore the evolution of marketing tactics, the increasing importance of ROI over mere traffic generation, and how AI is revolutionizing the industry to help businesses achieve better results.

Yaniv Masjedi
CMO, Nextiva

Their expertise has helped Nextiva grow its brand and overall business

Increase Your ROI Today

The Evolution of Marketing Tactics: From Traffic Generation to ROI Focus

In the early days, marketing was all about driving traffic. This meant getting as many visitors to your website as possible. SEO and keyword research were key tactics in this phase.

Content marketing also played a major role. Marketers created valuable content to attract and engage visitors, and social media platforms were used to drive even more traffic to websites.

However, the focus has shifted from just generating traffic to achieving a higher ROI. Here are some actionable insights to help you adapt to this shift:

  • Target your traffic to attract visitors who are more likely to convert. Rather than focusing solely on the volume of traffic, aim to attract visitors who are more likely to engage and convert. For example, use targeted ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to reach specific demographics that match your ideal customer profile:

Buyer Persona Example

  • Optimize your website to improve conversion rates and maximize ROI. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) involves making adjustments to your websites to encourage visitors to take desired actions, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. For instance, A/B testing different versions of a landing page can reveal which design elements, such as call-to-action buttons or headlines, lead to higher conversions:

  • Use data analytics to understand visitor behavior and refine your strategies. Google Analytics coupled heatmap software like Hotjar can help you understand how visitors interact with your site. By analyzing metrics such as bounce rate, session duration, and conversion paths, you can identify areas for improvement.

Key Takeaway: Targeted traffic and proper optimization are crucial for achieving higher ROI in modern marketing.

The Shift to ROI (and ROAS): Quality Over Quantity

As marketing changed, the focus moved from just getting a lot of traffic to getting the right kind of traffic. Visitors who are likely to become paying customers are now more important than just having a large number of visitors.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) became important. Marketers started improving their websites to convert visitors into customers. This change shows that it’s not just about attracting visitors but also about converting them.

Data-driven marketing helps improve ROI and return on advertising spend (ROAS). By paying attention to their own analytics, marketers can understand visitor behavior and make smart decisions to improve their strategies and boost sales from inbound marketing efforts:

4 stages of marketing analytics

The thing about AI, as helpful as it is, is that it can often skimp out on the quality of the content and creative assets, which is why an astute eye governing the creation of any and all marketing material made through AI ought to be vetted and adjusted if necessary.

Key Takeaway: Focusing on targeted traffic and optimizing for conversions are essential for maximizing ROI in modern marketing.

The Role of AI in Modern Marketing

AI automates many of the most repetitive types of marketing tasks. This includes things like SEO, keyword research, interpreting ecommerce data, and even content updates. Automation saves time and lets marketers focus on more important tasks.

AI also boosts creativity and strategy. With routine tasks automated, marketers can spend more time on creative campaigns and strategic plans. This leads to better marketing results and higher ROI from advertising and promotions.

To get the most from AI in your marketing, try these tips:

  • Use AI tools to automate repetitive tasks, freeing up time for strategic planning. Examples of such tasks include scheduling social media posts or sending email campaigns. Tools like Buffer and Social Sprout can take care of the former, while Mailchimp can take care of the latter:


  • AI can aid in the generation and updating of SEO pages for your website at scale via programmatic SEO. This approach is beneficial for websites with numerous pages, such as e-commerce sites. For instance, AI tools like MarketMuse can analyze existing content and suggest improvements or generate new content based on identified gaps:


  • Use AI-driven personalization to deliver more relevant content to your audience. AI algorithms can analyze user behavior and preferences to deliver personalized content. For example, e-commerce platforms like Amazon use AI to suggest products based on past purchases and browsing history, enhancing the shopping experience.
  • Use AI analytics to gain deeper insights into customer behavior and preferences. Google Analytics 4, for example, uses machine learning to identify trends and predict future behavior.

As an example, here’s a look at how Single Grain’s organic traffic spiked during the second half of 2023 after we started deploying our pSEO (programmatic SEO) playbook:

single grain organic traffic growth from pseo

Key Takeaway: AI in marketing allows more focus on creativity and strategy, leading to improved ROI.

Final Word on Marketing Tactics Evolution

The shift from generating traffic to focusing on ROI marks a big change in online marketing. Understanding and targeting the right audience is now more important than ever.

AI’s role in modern marketing is crucial. It automates tasks and boosts creativity, helping you achieve higher ROI. Embrace these changes to stay competitive and maximize your marketing success.

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