ORLANDO, FL — Overshadowed by the boom of the Internet, broadcast faxing is seeing steady growth in business-to-business marketing campaigns.
By combining fax, Internet and database technology, providers that exhibited at the recent Direct Marketing to Business conference here say they now offer a level of speed and personalization that makes broadcast faxing a viable complement or alternative to direct mail, telemarketing and even e-mail.
FaxSav, Edison, NJ, produces software that avoids many of the pitfalls of faxing — busy signals, lost or undeliverable documents — by routing calls over the Internet and delivering faxes to e-mail addresses. It also produces software that enables users to fax a Windows document from their desktops through an Internet connection to the recipients' fax machines.
The company's EZ-List Broadcast Fax service also uses the Internet to accept a recipient list of fax numbers and the fax document to its global network for distribution. Its Broadcast List Manager can store up to 1,000 fax lists and append or delete complete lists or individual data.
Internet faxing is expected to grow from 44 million pages in 1997 to 5.6 billion pages by 2001, according to forecasts by Dataquest/Gartner Group, Stamford, CT.
FaxSav product manager Stuart Kerty said Internet faxing saves costs by eliminating long-distance charges and by not requiring the purchase of extra hardware or phone lines for installation. Since an average of seven to eight people share a fax machine at most Fortune 500 companies, according to Kerty, businesses can also cut down the time waiting in line for faxes by receiving them at their desktops.
“Most of our customers use broadcast fax in a marketing function,” Kerty said. “It's more efficient than telemarketing or direct mail while e-mail does not have the touch and feel advantage of a fax. There is a certain visual requirement direct marketing relies on that you can't get from e-mail.”
Regional Health Care Equipment Services, Wichita Falls, TX, which sells refurbished medical and dental equipment, uses fax broadcasting from FaxSav to market limited quantity items that may be in high demand and catalogs for larger inventory items.
“Once we started marketing to a larger geographic area, that was our solution to a frequent problem of running out of inventory for customers outside a 300-mile radius who don't receive our catalog for three to four weeks,” said marketing director Bill Anderson.
Anderson said fax broadcasts are done in smaller, more targeted quantities than catalog mailings. The company rotates through its customer list for fax broadcasts to keep “everyone on an equal playing field” for access to the most sought after equipment.
Faxing is more responsive and cost-effective than direct mail because you pay only for the faxes that transmit and receive a report on who has received the fax document, said Steve Solenzio, owner of broadcast fax provider QuickLink, Branford, CT. QuickLink advertises a never-busy 1-800 faxback service on the bottom of its fax documents that serves the same function as Business Reply Envelope. Orders placed via faxback are in the client's possession for processing in less than two days, he said.
This quick turnaround is also used by BTB marketers for conducting surveys to determine which markets to target and by magazines for requalification campaigns.
By linking fax recipient lists with relational databases, fax documents can be customized in much the same way as on-demand digital printing customizes direct mail pieces. Solenzio said the level of customization is limited only by the depth of a client's database.
Quicklink also serves as a broker of fax lists for data compiler InfoUSA, Omaha, NE. InfoUSA sells fax numbers as part of an overall business listing that also includes other data. Solenzio said requests for fax lists are growing every year and he is surprised that more list firms are not getting involved in this area.
Carl Urbaniak, account executive at mail and fax provider Direct Access Marketing, Syosset, NY, said BTB marketers who don't like faxing should at least test it as a part of an overall marketing program.
Urbaniak said reminder/re-reorder and update campaigns have been growing among catalogers and directory publishers since Direct Access began offering fax services six years ago.
“What you're really doing is staying in front of the customer,” he said. “You're telling the customer what he has ordered in the past. You're paying attention and making it simple for him to reorder.”