A CMO’s Guide to Waterfall Marketing

    A CMO's Guide to Waterfall Marketing

    While planning long-term and time-intensive projects, marketers require robust developmental marketing methodologies. The Waterfall approach helps businesses develop an effective marketing plan and sales pipeline.

    Waterfall marketing creates deliverables sequentially by breaking down the tasks into multiple phases. Each phase is dependent on the timely completion of the previous phase.

    Implementing Waterfall Marketing Approach

    The Waterfall marketing approach is appropriate for businesses with products in the maturity stage or with long life cycles. A long life cycle ensures that the product does not disappear from the market before the business prospects are stable, as the Waterfall method requires more time to build a customer base.

    Moreover, a product in the maturity phase ensures that it is ready to be sold when the businesses enter the foreign market. It provides a long product life-cycle across all markets.

    Also Read: Integrating Agile-approach into Digital Marketing: Implementation and Efficiencies

    When to Use the Waterfall Approach?

    Waterfall marketing is beneficial for larger projects and for implementing new processes. System migrations, web design projects, content strategies for the same content over and over, and long-term nurture campaigns are among the tasks.

    The approach is suitable for projects with longer sales cycles since they need to achieve the required benchmark before progressing to the next phase. It allows ample time for a lengthy marketing workflow to be as effective as possible.

    The Waterfall methodology is efficient in product evolution and development while it helps ensure seamless product release and update. It gives sufficient time for the marketers to research, work on feedback, and for user testing before the product is live.

    When NOT to Use the Waterfall Approach?

    While this approach is beneficial mainly for long-term campaigns, bigger strategic goals and large-scale projects are its significant drawbacks. Since the phases are highly inflexible, there is no sufficient room to bounce amidst the project phases or initiate working on the next phase.

    Since businesses must determine the requirements, goals, and success metrics at the very beginning of the project, they might feel they are moving in the wrong path before they realize a change in the approach. The Waterfall approach is unsuitable for projects requiring rapid turns and regular optimization.

    Advantages of Waterfall Marketing

    The Waterfall marketing technique is an uncomplicated and well-defined project management methodology. The team understands what is required since the requirements are stationed right from the start. It allows them to plan their time and efforts during the project. Here are a few attributes of this approach-

    • Simple comprehension and implementation
    • The model’s rigidity is manageable since every step has clear deliverables and mechanisms.
    • Phases do not collide with each other since they are processed and completed one at a time.

    Disadvantages of Waterfall Marketing

    The disadvantage of marketing is its inability to adapt to changes. The technique is linear with a dependent paradigm, which limits Waterfall’s ability to recover from problems. Here are a few pitfalls of this approach-

    • It is challenging for businesses to modify unplanned tasks after product testing
    • The approach has associated risks and uncertainties
    • For large projects, this paradigm is inadequate
    • Inappropriate for projects with a moderate and high risk of change in the need requirements

    Waterfall Charts

    A Waterfall chart shows marketers how positive or negative values affect the outcomes in a final value.

    Essentially, businesses can use Waterfall charts to analyze data sequentially. Moreover, it helps companies to collect and track essential data like lead generation and traffic goals.

    Waterfall vs. Agile Methodologies: Key Differences

    The Waterfall is a linear working system requiring the team to finish each project phase before starting with the next. Agile encourages the team to work on multiple stages of the project simultaneously.

    • Timeline

    Waterfall works under a static timeline from start to finish of the project since the requirements are mapped out from the beginning.

    Agile is a lot more flexible and allows marketers to employ multiple ways. Rather than a fixed timeline, the project adapts it as it progresses.

    • Pliability

    The Waterfall is not pliable as businesses must finish each phase before moving on to the next. Moreover, marketers plan a project that benefits the teams with a transparent vision from start to finish.

    The Agile method employs flexibility. The methodology values short work bursts, called “sprints.” It encourages marketers to adapt numerous methods in multiple directions and integrate new data even at the later stages of the project.

    • Budget

    The Waterfall marketing approaches have fixed project budgets. It is because marketers can determine the entire project’s objectives from start to finish. Hence, there are no significant budget changes between the phases.

    The budget for projects under Agile marketing is flexible since it encourages experimentation and is open to changes and alterations even in the later product phases. Due to this, the budget is more flexible.

    • Client Involvement

    Waterfall does not involve the client during the process except for specific check-ins or deliverables. Marketers can bypass client involvement since the project’s course is outlined from the start.

    Including clients in the project development is paramount in Agile. It necessitates client involvement as they progress through multiple phases of the project.

    Also Read: Three Strategies to make your Marketing Agile  


    The Waterfall is suitable if businesses clearly understand the project outcomes. Moreover, a Waterfall is adequate when a project requires to meet strict regulations.

    Agile is flexible and allows businesses to experiment with the project’s direction. It requires a collaborative team with regular, frequent check-ins with stakeholders about the progress.

    Businesses must address primary factors like the length of the project, average purchase time, and the way the team functions to determine if Waterfall marketing is properly aligned.

    By better understanding the team and customers’ requirements, marketers can select the suitable marketing methodology to maximize the success of the marketing efforts.

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