Councils are missing out on huge savings as a result of not doing enough to encourage citizens to use their websites as an alternative to using overstretched staff to get local information and pay for services.
In a study, Socitm, the association for public sector IT managers, said greater website use resulted in fewer staff man hours being eaten up by citizens phoning or visiting council sites.
But councils aren't taking full advantage of the opportunity, said Socitm.
The Socitm Insight study reports that fewer than 20% of visits to council websites are a result of promotional activity by the council.
The study found that most visitors come to council sites via search engines such as Google (29%), because they work for the council (26%), or as a result of guessing the website URL (19%).
In the report Warwickshire county council estimates it could save over £700,000 a year from boosting website visits by 650,000, with citizens using self-service facilities on its website.
Martin Greenwood, programme manager for Socitm Insight, said that councils had recently concentrated on getting their website up and running and building in self-service functions.
They now had to concentrate on promoting website use to fully gain the financial benefits, he said.