This week, the mobile enterprise investigates the return on mobile and social-based engagement investments.

The Reality Behind Location-Based Services

Are your users checking in using their mobile devices? According to a new survey by the digital agency Beyond, only 17% of the US population have checked in using an app on their mobile device. 49% of the population didn’t feel there was any real motivation to check in and had concerns about privacy.

For those who are checking in, a majority of users (32%) are using Facebook Places to announce their location, while others use Twitter, Foursquare and other services such as Yelp or Gowalla.

Those who are motivated to check in are driven by access to discounts and deals available after checking into a location, as well as connecting with friends and learning more about the location.

While 17% of users may seem small, location-based services aren’t for everyone, but companies shouldn’t be discouraged. Like Wikipedia and other user-generated media, it may be that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the population. Location-based marketing shouldn’t be ignored -- instead, it should focus on the needs of those users who are loyal and enjoy benefiting from the incentives provided.

Investing in Mobile Retail

According to The State Of Retailing Online 2011: Marketing, Social, and Mobile report conducted by Forrester Research for, 91% of retailers currently have a mobile strategy in place or in development. A year ago this number was 74%. Why the significant increase?

Retailers reported that 21% of all mobile traffic is coming from tablets. As a result, companies are eager to take advantage of the market. 48% of retailers report having a mobile-optimized website, 35% have deployed an iPhone app and 15% offer an Android app and an iPad app, respectively. Likewise, social networks ranked fourth on the list of successful customer acquisition sources.

While differentiating the consumer experience across platforms is recommended, it may be too early to tell if there’s a tangible payoff for these types of mobile and social development. 62% of retailers said the returns on social marketing strategies are unclear. However, nearly the same percentage said the primary ROI from social marketing is listening to and gaining a better understanding of customers, which, while not tangible from a revenue perspective, can be more valuable.

When All Else Fails, Add Audio

If mobile, social and location-based services fail you, there’s always audio. According to NPR’s internal usage data covering January 1 through mid-April, users who request audio, whether in the form of a live stream, newscast or music, view twice as many pages as those who only read the apps’ content.

On average, audio streamers rack up 4.2 pageviews per visit versus 2.4 for the text-only crowd and remains consistent across tablet devices, like the iPad.