The necessity of having a clear and cohesive mobile marketing strategy has never been greater. Companies that do not have a mobile marketing strategy now are light years behind the curve in the face of booming smartphone adoption and changing consumer behavior. Research firm Forrester took a look at some of the biggest and best mobile marketing companies to see how they stack up and what benefits they can add for companies.

There is a problem with Forrester's research. Mainly, it looks only at the biggest and best. It is an enterprise-focused report that narrows in on nine mobile marketing companies and the strengths behind each. Fundamentally, this is the wrong approach to take in a world where dozens of innovative startups are tackling the idea of mobile marketing with fresh ideas and eager teams.

The nine vendors that the Forrester Wave research report focused on are: AKQA, iCrossing, Ogilvy, Possible Worldwide, Razorfish, Rosetta, SapientNitro, TribalDDB and VML.

It is important to note the criteria in which these companies were chosen for inclusion in the report:

  • A comprehensive mobile services offer: the ability to provide core mobile marketing services with strategy, native and mobile Web development, messaging, advertising and management.
  • Experience developing mobile programs: five years of experience.
  • Strong and growing revenue stream from mobile marketing: met or exceeded Forrester's threshold for revenue from mobile services.
  • Recognition of mobile work from peers and marketers: Forrester asked agencies to name mobile marketing competitors. It also asked "11 mature mobile marketers" to share the list of agencies in their selection process. A company needed to be on each list three times to be included in the report.

As you can see, the criteria makes the selection process stacked in favor of established entities. The "leaders" of this survey were SapientNitro (with the highest score across all criteria), AKQA, Ogilvy, TrialDBB and Razorfish. All the other companies figured into the "strong performers" category.

Clients looking for mobile marketing strategies would do well looking to these companies. They have strong development teams and good strategic initiatives. Most include analytics and audience insight into their offerings. There is nothing wrong with choosing a so-called industry leader, even if the criteria in which is was chosen is inherently flawed.

Yet, if you are looking for tools that are more powerful or are under the radar of this enterprise-focused group, there are a variety of terrific startups across the country. For instance, Apsalar has an innovative and ambitious set of mobile marketing tools and robust analytics. Flurry and Localytics are both great startups with intense analytic tools and engagement philosophies. In the gaming world of native apps, PlayHaven has a great dashboard to produce results. Jumptap is emerging as a leader in targeted mobile marketing.

Each of these companies has one or two tools that could be of significant use to companies looking to make a splash with their brand on mobile devices. What they often lack in comparison to the so-called leaders is the experience (as an established company) and the development shops that enterprise-grade mobile marketers have. More often, they can be classified as "tools" better than fully well-rounded mobile marketing shops. There are perhaps a dozen more startups in the mobile marketing arena that are worth consideration.

There is nothing wrong with going to a smaller company that has the tools that are right for you. Often the smaller companies will be more attentive to your needs. What they lack in scale they make up for in innovation and eagerness. That is not to say that the bigger mobile marketing shops are not eager but the point is that there are plenty of options. A company does not have to match some set of obscure criteria to be a great option for mobile marketing needs.