According to new Nielsen data, the average U.S. Smartphone user are using more data than ever before on a per-user basis. In the last year, the smartphone usage has grown by 89%, from 230MB in Q12010 to 435MB in 2011.

People with Android and Iphone devices are leading the pack. The latest comScore data reports that Android accounts for 36% of the smartphone market with Iphone at 26%. The Nielsen data also states that 37% of mobile phone subscribers now have smartphones.

So, how does this affect you in marketing your business? There is no doubt that smartphones are on the rise and they are changing the way consumers interact with businesses and their websites. However, the timing and investment of capitalizing on this wave depends on your own customers and how they shop or search your website.

What is the average age of your customer? Do the majority get information on your product or service through their smartphone? Where do they live…rural or metro areas?

In looking at web analytics of some of my customers in Colorado, I am surprised at the smaller number of people who visit their website from a smartphone. It only accounts for about 4-6% of the visitors. That number is growing, but it still represents a small percentage of their audience right now.

So, what does this mean for small business owners? First of all, I would hold off on spending thousands developing an iphone app if your website audience has not reached a larger percentage. You can be ahead of the curve, but if it doesn’t hit the majority of your customers, was it a worthwhile investment? In addition, the app world is very competitive. So, you need a unique app that delivers real benefit to people if you pursue this route.

Secondly, I would make sure your website is visible to people with smartphones. That doesn’t mean it is a “mobile site”. Mobile sites tend to strip out some of the photos and graphics and allow for more text without scrolling as much on your smartphone. This may make sense for your business. However, with the advent of tablets, like the Ipad, you may want to display more graphics.

Third, I would continually monitor your web stats on a monthly basis to see how the percentages change. When you see more than 10% of your audience viewing your site from a smartphone, then it maybe time to invest in a mobile site or mobile app.