Sending a fax broadcast

Introduction

CopiaFacts fax broadcasts merge a list of fax numbers and names with a form document and then fax the document to each fax number. This capability is included with the basic CopiaFacts license and installs automatically with the CopiaFacts server. To send a broadcast, create a document, print it to the image catalog or to a folder of your choice, export a database (from any popular database application), run a small test, then launch the broadcast.

The CopiaFacts broadcast manager is named FFBC.  This program can handle e-mail broadcasts and voice broadcasts in addition to fax broadcasts.

The list of recipients can be created in any database program like Microsoft Access, or a SQL database, or a simple text editor, and exported as ASCII-formatted text files using the database export features. FFBC can also read directly a number of file formats such as dBASE and Excel.  FFBC can load XLS and XLSX lists directly, but some rare cases with very complex macros or formulas in the list fields may defeat it: in this case you can define the USE_EXCEL variable in the template and load Excel on the machine running FFBC.

Database format example:

"630-778-8848","John","Smith",

"630-778-8848","Steve Hersee","Copia","id_1234"

When sending a marketing fax broadcast please ensure that you provide your recipients with a means of opting out of receiving further faxes.  The guidelines for the USA are specified at this FCC link.   If your CopiaFacts system includes voice capability you can use the Fax Opt-out IVR Application example application.

How it Works

Broadcasts are initiated when FS (fax send) control files are written into a TOSEND directory. CopiaFacts supports multiple TOSEND directories each with a different priority. This feature allows you to send many large and small broadcasts with different priorities and times of sending. The FaxFacts system is optimized to minimize network traffic and the use of file-based queues provides an efficient and flexible way of handling both small and large broadcasts.

If your business is sending broadcasts for other organizations, consider using the CopiaFacts Job Administration system which provides job management and reporting in addition to basic broadcast operations.

Setting up a simple Broadcast

Open the FFBC program from its icon or from the Start Menu:

The program will display an initial screen showing that no list or template has been selected:

Select the leftmost tab (FS Template) and then the Open button:

Open the sample template file from the FAXFACTS\Samples\FFBC folder.  The template specifies the commands that will be used in each FS file that is generated for the broadcast.  It contains the details of the fax that is to be sent, when to send it, priority, and other options.

FFBC provides two ways to edit the template.  It is initially shown as an editable command file, but we will show below the alternative view available on the Broadcast tab.  The sample file contains the following commands:

You can change the 'Company' text and save the sample file if you wish.

Next select the List tab and open either a small sample list of your own data, or the sample list provided in the same folder.  The list is presented in grid form, divided into fields.  If your fields are not divided correctly, you may have incorrect syntax of tabs, commas or quotes in the list.  Further details of file formats and syntax appears in the FFBC Broadcast List topic. Note that lists cannot be edited in FFBC.

The colors shown above are taken from the $fax_phone, $voice_phone, $email_address, and $fax_receiver commands, and identify the phone number column in red, the e-mail address column in green, and the recipient column(s) in yellow.  You can use the right-click menu in the list header area to change the columns:

Now it's time to switch to the Broadcast tab, which presents another view of the same data that is in the FS Template:

The Broadcast screen defines the personality of the broadcast. This screen sets all of the properties of the broadcast. If any of the fields are red they will need to be addressed before the broadcast is launched.

User Profile is defaulted to FAX.USR. If you wish to change the defaults that are defined in FAX.USR, you can create additional .USR files. You could use this to set different retry plans per broadcast.

The Cover Sheet check box is checked if you are doing a 'cover sheet only' broadcast, or if you want to include a cover sheet as well as the broadcast image(s). For a normal 'fax blast' the check box is not checked.

The Fax Header box defines the information across the top of the fax. This will be defaulted to the recipient name and the company name defined in FAXFACTS.CFG. If you wish to have no header you can enter 'none' here.  CopiaFacts variables can be expanded in the header line, and fax boards make various other data available. For details see the fax header line topic.

CSID is the fax ID value that is sent to the fax machine at the start of the transmission. This should be the return fax number of your company or the party sending the broadcast. You only have 20 characters to use in this field. The value in this field will show up in the display window of the receiving fax machine.

Use the Fax Documents filename box to name the documents (from the image catalog or from any folder) for broadcast. This box and the … box next to allow you to select the fax image you wish to send. Documents to be sent are normally created by 'printing' to the FaxFacts Client printer and using the 'Save as Fax' task.  You can also select a PDF document and have FFBC pre-convert it to TIF format.  Other documents can be pre-converted if you have CopiaFacts Document Converter, and the applicable application, installed on the same machine.

Not all TIF files are faxable, because the TIF format defines only a file structure and tagged fields.  'Faxable TIFF' format requires specific tags, option settings and image format and resolution. Normally a graphic file exported to TIF, especially from a Microsoft application, will NOT be directly faxable, but the CopiaFacts Document Converter (if configured) will usually automatically convert such files, and other TIF files which are 'nearly faxable' can be converted on-the-fly in the COPIAFACTS server engine.  Attempting to load a TIF into FFVIEWER will report if it is not directly faxable.

Variable Definitions allows you to define $var_def lines in the broadcast. You can usually ignore this unless you need to identify billing information in the daily .DBF log file.

The Dedupe and Headers checkboxes allow you to add/delete the necessary options variable.  Check the Headers box if your list file contains a header row.

The Schedule panel allows you to set the schedule for your broadcast, either specifying when it should start or setting up a daily schedule. Press the Set Schedule button to access a dialog showing the various parameters.

The Reduce Priority field allows you to adjust the priority of the broadcast relative to normal fax traffic. The higher the number, the lower the priority. We suggest number 2 or greater for broadcasts. This can also select a TOSEND queue that sends during the times that you wish the fax to be sent. Queue schedules are set up in the COPIAFACTS server engine.

The Test Phone#/Email identifies the test phone number to send a "proof" fax. This number is used with the row selected on the list tab, to send a test/proof fax. This proof allows you to look at the fax, header, CSID, and the time of the transmission. Please use the test button until your are confident everything is correct, before pressing GO to launch the broadcast.

The Sender box identifies the sender of the fax for use with STATUS, and can also be inserted on a cover sheet or fax header using @sender. Take care when selecting to monitor items with STATUS, because including very large jobs can slow down the operation of the STATUS program.

The Job details box from earlier versions of FFBC is no longer included on the Broadcast tab.  You should remove the legacy $job_owner and $job_id commands from the template (unless your installation is still using them) because they are incompatible with monitoring items with STATUS.

Broadcast Walk-Through

The next topic walks through the complete process of sending a broadcast.