Building a team in a cost-effective way: Tips from Luke McDermott

We recently spoke to Luke McDermott about Common CRO Political Obstacles and the most cost-effective ways of building a team.

Rommil from Experiment Nation: Hi Luke! Thanks for taking the time to chat. Could tell our audience a bit about yourself.

Luke McDermott: I’m Luke McDermott and I currently work at Modo25 an In-housing digital marketing agency in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. 

I grew up a few miles away in a small village called Haworth (you might know it from the Bronte Sisters / Wuthering Heights / Jane Eyre). But I’ve lived across the north of England over the last decade, more recently in Leeds for the last 4 years.

Luke playing golf
Tell us a bit about your career path and how you got to where you are today.

I originally started 6 or 7 years ago in paid media, specifically looking after Facebook, LinkedIn & Google ads for B2B clients. 

The agency I was at was a small start up so I was very fortunate to be able to try my hand at other elements of the business. 

Before I knew it, it was the a/b testing & analysing websites which I saw providing more value to clients, so I decided to focus my efforts there.

I eventually moved over to an agency in Harrogate with the task of building out the CRO team there over a 2 year period. 

My next venture, which is where I currently am at Modo25, I’m working alongside our data science team, to predict conversion rates & the associated testing roadmap/s to deliver the desired results using data & AI.

Luke with friends
Nice! So, I’m curious. What is the Experimentation community like in Leeds?

For me personally, Leeds is such a great city for digital marketing and is getting bigger & better every single year. There’s some incredible agencies & companies with some really talented people

The community is still relatively small in Leeds. I think only a few teams are doing experimentation well, but I can only see this growing even stronger in the future!

Are there any events you’d recommend that people check out in Leeds?

To be honest since COVID I haven’t attended a lot of events. 

One of the best is always Leeds Digital Festival though & I always try to get to that.

But Modo25 is also looking at hosting several events & webinars over the next couple of months so keep an eye out!

Switching topics now. As a head of CRO, you must have seen your share of political friction. Could you share with us the most common obstacle you’ve faced and your advice on how to tackle it?

I think this is a really interesting point and in my experience no two teams are the same. 

But if I had to say the most common obstacles that I’ve faced it would probably be from development teams both internal and external. 

It can occasionally be thought that CRO/UX are there to tear apart their hard work, which isn’t the case at all. I believe we’re there to support and even help development teams save time and allocate time on projects that are more commercially beneficial to the company. 

What’s great to see if some relationships I’ve had with development agencies change over the years once they see the value in experimentation.

That’s an important perspective. I think anytime a team comes in and pokes around another’s work – well-intentioned or not, there’s going to be friction.
Speaking of building a team, as someone who has built CRO teams in the past – what’s the most cost-effective way of standing a team up in a short time? And what is the hardest role to fill?

I think the most cost effective way of setting up your team is to first understand the resources that you have at your disposal in your business. There might be a PPC analyst looking to expand their knowledge or someone in the marketing team who wants to help create a killer landing page for leads. That would be my first recommendation. 

“I think the most cost effective way of setting up your team is to first understand the resources that you have at your disposal in your business. There might be a PPC analyst looking to expand their knowledge or someone in the marketing team who wants to help create a killer landing page for leads.” – Luke McDermott

I also think being open to looking for advice from an agency isn’t anything to be afraid of & I’m always up for a conversation about supporting individuals with experimentation programmes. No one person can be great at every part – that’s arguably the best thing about my role! 

But in terms of the hardest role to fill. I’ve been very fortunate in my career in have a great team around me right through from analysts to developers but I would say the most challenging role is a reliable developer has always been at the core of a successful CRO team as it’s a completely different proposition to a ‘traditional’ development role.

I couldn’t agree more. It takes a special mindset to be able to be OK with taking the time to build something knowing that if it doesn’t work, they’ll have to iterate on it – or even throw it away.
Let’s change gears. It’s time for the Lightning Round! Describe yourself in 5 words or less.

Confident, Competitive, Charismatic, Thoughtful & Knowledgeable.

Frequentist or Bayesian?


If you couldn’t work in Experimentation, what would you be doing today?

I’d like to think I’d end up in something around the law profession but knowing me I’d have found my way into digital marketing & web design/development before too long!

What do you have going on that you feel our audience should know about?

I think what Modo25 is looking to achieve with our platform is going to be really special for predicting experimentation with AI going forward, we’re actually currently looking at partnering with any experimentation team this year so get in touch to find out more.

Who should we interview next?

Craig Wilkie or Will Rawson

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Rommil Santiago