Marketing Automation vs. MCIF: What CUs need to know before they invest

Are you still looking for a marketing customer information file, or MCIF, vendor to help you harness the power of your data? If so, it’s great you’re thinking about ways to use technology to enhance the member experience … but you could be doing a lot more.

Back when MCIFs were new, they used up-to-the-minute technology to wrangle member data into useful information for financial institutions. It was a huge innovation. But that was a decade or more ago. Technology has grown and evolved since then (at lightning speed) and your FI should be growing with it. It’s hard to do that by relying solely on outdated technology.

Today, an MCIF is a basic starting point. If your goals extend beyond organizing your ecosystem’s data for simple reports into activating data for strategic campaigning, you need Marketing Automation. For a similar investment to an MCIF solution alone, you can move beyond the MCIF ABCs to something much more actionable that will allow you to create meaningful and relevant campaigns that strengthen relationships with members and drive business growth.

Marketing Automation vs. MCIF

If this is new information for you, don’t worry. Here’s a comparison for traditional MCIFs and today’s marketing automation technology using several vital factors. But here’s the key: Not all automated marketing systems offer all of these benefits. Find one that does.


  • Marketing Automation sources more than core data and digital banking channel behavior, including everyday spend data, custom models, and third-party data with an approach for rapid onboarding.
  • MCIFs often focus on core data with expensive and time-consuming efforts to map data from non-core systems. With MCIFs, transaction data is not being used at scale to provide actionable insights.


  • Marketing Automation protects privacy and identity by not requiring, storing or transmitting PII.
  • MCIFs replicate PII from the core into one or more external repositories.


  • Marketing Automation product and spend insights are updated daily in real time to keep decisioning and messaging as current as possible. It allows you to understand product behaviors, life events, spend propensity, held-away account activity, channel use and more using our best-in-class insights.
  • Data in an MCIF may be days or weeks old, causing missed opportunities for engagement. It is often limited to account and product data from the core with a requirement for users to identify relationships and data insights.


  • Marketing Automation offers both off-the-shelf predictive models as well as options for custom models that can be deployed within weeks to guide the right conversation at the right time.
  • MCIF is often limited to a small set of common predictive models to understand profitability or ‘next best’ actions without access to spend behavior data.


  • Marketing Automation allows you to set goals, track performance and show ROI across campaigns and channels.
  • Most MCIFs lack goal-driven reporting without closed-loop influence and attribution.


  • Marketing Automation creates unlimited audiences with advanced “include and exclude” controls for deep levels of personalization.
  • MCIFs lack the ability to target based on product and spend behavior, omitting key segments and messaging opportunities.


  • Marketing Automation allows for integrated offerings across digital, traditional and assisted channels.
  • MCIFs typically are required to extract list data to third parties in order to realize value from lists.


  • Marketing Automation utilizes first-party data to deliver 1:1 targeted ads to members and prospects on the open internet.
  • MCIFs often are unable to support acquisition or retargeting campaigns altogether with no option for internet ad delivery.


  • With Marketing Automation, integrations, security controls, always-on campaign targeting, real-time message delivery and reporting require little or no oversight after initial setup.
  • With an MCIF, monitoring data feeds, creating lists, assembling reports and exporting data can drive high overhead for MCIF management.

And that is just scratching the surface.

About finding the right marketing automation provider…We humbly suggest that’s us. Segmint’s all-in-one platform integrates core and transaction data analytics with dynamic segmentation for highly personalized marketing campaign management, multichannel message delivery and campaign reporting in one secure solution. Our data-driven marketing solutions and insights support an unparalleled range of use cases to deepen member relationships and grow your business.

Learn More! Download Segmint’s MCIF vs. Marketing Automation Comparison Guide

Contact the author: Alkami

Contact the author: Alkami

Emily Fagan

Emily Fagan

Emily Fagan has nearly twenty years of experience in marketing and brand direction, after having earned a BFA from Rhode Island College, continued education credits and certifications focused on branding, ... Web: Details