26 50

CMO50 2016 #26-50: Melina Cruickshank

  • Name Melina Cruickshank
  • Title Chief editorial and marketing officer
  • Company Domain Group
  • Commenced role October 2014
  • Reporting Line Editorial and Consumer Marketing Division
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 55 staff
  • Industry Sector Media and entertainment
  • 2015 ranking 26-50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    Since she took on the combined role of chief editorial and marketing officer at Domain in 2014, the core of Melina Cruickshank’s strategy has been informed by four major areas: Data-driven decision making, editorial content, audience-oriented marketing and mobile-first thinking.

    Pioneering a restructure and new way of working, Cruickshank was responsible for bringing together a division of 62 staff, pooling journalists with audience marketers into a single content and audience team. In addition, the product and technology work extremely closely alongside them, ensuring consumer-facing messaging is as accurate as possible as new product features and content are constantly being pushed out.

    Core to aligning different teams that traditionally worked largely independently of each other is a people-led approach, she says. “Above all, culture is key and has largely been focused on everyone having each other’s back and being supportive of each other,” she says.

    While skill is important, Cruickshank says it’s a team that can work cohesively and that trusts each other that’s instrumental to building a strong, modern marketing function. And it’s why she says her proudest moment in the last 12 months was moving into the new Domain offices in Pyrmont and gazing across at her new team of 60 “upcoming, bright, talented and positive individuals working towards the same goals with bold ideas and creative approaches”.

    From the CMO50 submission

    Innovative marketing

    Cruickshank has worked hard to take Domain from ‘distant second’ to true challenger and leading digital innovator in the property industry. In the past 12 months, her strategy has focused on driving audience growth and building brand engagement through the delivery of quality content that fosters trust and loyalty.

    By bringing more humour into how Australia’s property market is represented in media, she’s also extending Domain’s reach into passive audiences that were not looking to make a property decision in the immediate future.

    An example is the online video series, Avalon Now, commissioned last year. The series took a humorous look at the passion people have about the suburb they live in, and stereotyped personalities that live within the Avalon community. The series was reached more than 3.1 million Facebook users and drove over 121,000 clickthroughs to Domain’s website. Domain is now launching a second season.

    This focus on quality content extends right across the marketing and editorial divisions, and the Domain team is producing more content than ever. It’s this focus on content that has attributed to significant audience growth in the past 12 months, Cruickshank says. Across all platforms, including Domain’s website and mobile app, the group has experienced an 82 per cent uplift in average monthly visits and just reported a 33 per cent revenue growth in the last fiscal year.

    Data- and technology-driven approach

    Domain prides itself of being a consumer-centric organisation by making the property journey simpler and easier. Two data- and technology-led features aimed at the 13 million Australians on Facebook launched in the past year were designed also to achieve this.

    The first was Domain’s Live Auctions, launched via Facebook Live and giving viewers an inside glimpse into what happens when a property goes under the hammer. Audiences go to Domain’s Facebook page to stream selected live auctions.

    Domain first experimented with the idea in early May with an auction in Melbourne. The live auction reached almost 300,000 Facebook users and due to the unprecedented levels of engagement and popular feedback, Domain delivered its audiences a second auction the following week. This was viewed almost 24,000 times and attracted more than 3300 comments. Based on the positive response, it’s now a regular part of Domain’s social media content strategy.

    Domain also released Facebook Messenger Bot, which it claims was the first property Messenger bot globally that allows consumers to find properties by asking for the information they need on Messenger. Curious buyers or renters exploring a new suburb share a location or a location pin in the Domain Facebook Messenger chat box to instantly receive a reply with information on properties in the area, including sales and rental history.

    Customer-led approach

    Cruickshank says Domain is always looking for ways to help Australians get ahead on their property journey. This includes everything from the products the group creates to make it simpler and easier to find property; making information free and easily accessible to anyone, such as Domain’s Home Price Guide with price estimates and sale and rental history; providing expert advice and tips on all things property; and through fun and quirky content campaigns to just make the whole experience a little more enjoyable.

    Earlier this year, Domain released Domain Check-in, aimed at making the entire inspection process easier and more seamless for Australians. Instead of filling out countless forms or waiting in line at a property inspection to provide personal contact details, Domain Check-In allows house hunters to register their details once through the feature on their mobile to instantly browse properties, add them to their inspection planner and generate an automatic inspection pass, meaning they can skip the Saturday morning inspection queue.


    Thanks to digital growth and adoption, Domain has more data insights informing its marketing strategy than ever before. While Domain has experienced a real shift in how it reaches its audience since moving the focus from print to digital, there has been the need to balance immediate ROI with continually innovating to do things better, Cruickshank says.

    “It is Domain’s agility which has enabled the tech driven property platform to do both,” Cruickshank says. “Traditionally, many marketing models are built on long-term strategies but the beauty of digital is that it has allowed the various teams to pivot very quickly,” she says.

    Cruickshank encourages the product and technology team to think of a solution and execute it in a short space of time, and believes the best laid plans are made to be broken. For this reason, values such as hustle, being scrappy and getting on with it are embedded in the team, with lessons learnt during the journey impacting the final outcome.

    “The intentions of the product and technology team, however is always informed by metrics and data and the passion to provide consumers with tools that will help them sell, buy or find a home faster,” she adds.


    For Cruickshank, creativity comes back to the consumer need. She says Domain is constantly on the lookout for products that will help buyers and sellers. Teams are also always on the lookout for creative ways to engage with Domain’s audience and ensure every experience leads to a return engagement across every channel.

    “Teams all work cohesively, bouncing ideas off each other and are driven by the common goal of creating content that is consumer focused, whether that is an app that helps people find or sell their homes faster or is created to provide entertainment to those with an interest in property,” she says.

    “Having a stake in the digital landscape has allowed the teams to really develop creative approaches, be more agile and with the metrics on hand, identify what property consumers are really after.”

    Under Cruickshank’s direction, a combination of being in a unique position to be able to execute things very quickly, along with a cohesive, driven team culture has set the perfect conditions to develop creative approaches outside Domain’s traditional field.

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