Too many company websites are "financial black holes" that gobble up stacks of cash, but deliver few benefits.
More than half of UK and European companies have no idea what return on investment (ROI) they make from their websites, according to a survey commissioned by Comrange and carried out by the European Centre for Customer Strategies (ECCS).
The problem is so bad that some companies are ploughing more than £1m a year on Web running costs yet haven't a clue whether they're getting value for money.
Some 465 companies from across Europe - including those in IT, telecoms, finance, manufacturing and construction - were quizzed as part of the research.
While two-thirds said they generated sales through their websites, a similar number said they failed to cash in on this and use their websites to increase customer sales.
Those companies that were able to calculate the payback from investing in the Web gained more business benefits than those that were unaware of their return of investment (ROI).
The more Web savvy firms are more than twice as successful in generating sales and creating a better "customer experience", said the report.
"The [survey]…shows that over half the websites are little better than financial black holes into which money is poured never to return," says David Harvey, director of ECCS and author of the survey.
"They generate scant revenue for their owners and little value for their customers. The clear winners are the ISPs, telcos and other web-enabling service providers."
He said that most companies treat their websites as "little more than billboards".
"The opportunity to improve business results by making better use of Web technology is largely untapped," he said.
This week a report slammed the UK's top businesses for running poor websites. The Customer Respect Index (CRI) found that a fifth of UK companies failed to respond to online queries, while two in ten took more than three days to respond. ®