Fasthosts, a leading web hosting provider and domain name registrar, reports that 43 per cent of UK companies admit that they have no quantifiable method of measuring whether their website is effective, according to recently released research released.

The study of 430 UK firms* by Fasthosts (http://www.fasthosts.co.uk/) found that whilst the average business has published a website for 3-4 years, a huge number of businesses have no numerical grasp on how well their website is performing, or whether it is leading to sales. One in four owners do not believe their website has potential as a sales channel. A remarkable 77 per cent of firms fail to measure any type of ‘return on investment’ for their websites, and 1 in 3 owners (34 per cent) admit that they have never considered checking the popularity or effectiveness of their website. The research suggests that many companies are failing to analyse and optimise online as diligently as they do other areas of their operation.

Whilst studies show that the majority of business owners today realise the importance of having a presence on the Internet, it appears that a great many do no more than publish their website. Fasthosts’ survey of 430 small local businesses using a website, found that over 40 per cent currently do not use data (such as a graphical web statistics tool (http://www.fasthosts.co.uk/hosting/website-tracking-marketing/) to assess whether their website is working to support their business goals. During the first half of 2009, the vast majority of SMEs (83 per cent) have not analysed their websites performance against their business plan.

Despite half of businesses feeling happy with their websites and 43 per cent viewing these as integral to their marketing efforts, it would appear that a great many firms simply do not know whether their website is making the right impact. Only 57 per cent of firms do monitor their website performance by checking an overall traffic volume statistic for their homepage. However, only 40 per cent currently analyse where their website visitors are being referred from, an essential element of effective online marketing. Furthermore, only 33 per cent of owners who do measure their website look at the click-through rates to individual sections of the site.

It is perhaps unsurprising over three quarters of businesses questioned (77 per cent) make no assessment of ‘return on investment’ for their websites. Only 11 per cent of those surveyed, judged the effectiveness of their website in terms of ‘clicks vs. sales’ or ‘web cost per order’. Worryingly, the research would suggest that for a significant number of companies, expectations for their website are rather low. 1 in 4 owners (23 per cent) still do not believe their website has potential to be a sales channel.

However, nowadays easy-to-use tools are available for any business owner to evaluate the effectiveness of their website themselves. For example, Fasthosts provides its hosting customers with a free MatrixStats tool, a graphical web statistics tool that provides an instant snapshot of how well websites and domains are performing.

Steve Holford, CMO Fasthosts Internet Ltd., said: “By taking note of their website statistics and making necessary changes, many companies we work with enjoy a real fiscal impact.”

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