How the Strategies of the Top-30 Crypto Exchanges Have Changed Since 2018

If you are a marketer of a crypto project, you always search for new ways to grow. Why don’t you look at the best crypto exchanges to understand their path to success? A new two-year-long study of the 30 best exchanges from the top-100 lists by Coinmarketcap, Coingecko, and CryptoCompare by BDC Consulting not only shows the crypto market evolution since 2018 but also helps smaller exchanges and crypto projects align their actions with or benchmark against the giants. 

The study shows the top-30 exchanges’ trading volumes, security, PR, SMM, SEO, email marketing, and competition with such platforms as eToro and Robinhood. 

Here are a few of the insights:

  • Most leading players offer services in 150+ countries
  • 70% of exchanges have a fiat gateway, and 40% feature at least one native asset
  • Despite Robinhood's and eToro's efforts to attract crypto traders, their user numbers and revenue are still far below those of cryptocurrency exchanges
  • Direct traffic accounts for 71% of all visits to exchange websites, while Google and other search engines supply only 11.5%
  • Only 34% of exchanges are properly SEO-optimized
  • Only 3 exchange websites can boast a high load speed on both desktop and mobile


3 Exchanges, 75% of the Volume: How Concentrated Is Trading?


If you ask an average crypto user which exchange is the largest, they will probably name Binance. Indeed, in 2018 its leadership was unmatched with 30.3% of the total trading volume of the 30 exchanges included in the original study. OKEx was second with 17.2%. However, in 2020 it is Huobi that leads with 28.9%, followed by Binance (26%) and OKEx (22.1%). 

The three leading exchanges are very close to each other in terms of volumes, followed by a dramatic drop-off: bitFlyer comes fourth with just 4.2% of the total volume. The growing trading concentration is one of the key insights of the study: the top three platforms account for 75% of the total volume. 

How did Huobi (which was not even on the list in 2018) manage to get to the very top of the list? To find out, BDC Consulting analysts looked at the annual volume increase for each exchange. It turned out that Huobi's volume surged by almost 700% between 2019 and 2020. Only Crypto.com demonstrated a better result with 1160%, but it opened in late 2019 and so began growing from zero. 

The volume growth chart demonstrates the negative impact of the so-called 'crypto winter' – the prolonged bearish trend that began after the price collapse in January 2018 and lasted until the end of 2019. The overall volume in this period grew by just 1.5%. By contrast, between 2019 and 2020 it increased by 170%. It's worth pointing out that only OKEx and BitFlyer succeeded in augmenting their volumes every year.


Crypto Exchanges Have Left China


In early 2018, many of the top 30 exchanges were registered in mainland China or Hong Kong. However, by July 2018, after the authorities virtually banned their activities, over 170 Chinese trading platforms closed down or moved. In particular, Huobi to Seychelles, and Binance to Malta. 

Out of the jurisdictions that were popular with top exchanges in 2018, only the US has remained on the list. China and Hong Kong have dropped out, to be replaced by South Korea. In the diagram below, the size of each circle represents the number of top 30 exchanges registered in a location. 


Large Exchanges Tweet 3 Times a Day


Twitter remains the main channel of communication, as shown in the graph: 

On average, an exchange from the top 30 had 196 thousand followers on Twitter and 146 thousand on Facebook: 12% and 11% more than in 2018, respectively. At the same time, the engagement rates on Twitter are traditionally lower than in other social networks: the average in 2020 was just 0.08%. This means that for every tweet, only 8 out of 1,000 followers or impressions reacted to it by liking, commenting, or retweeting. In 2018, the engagement rate was lower (0.07%).

Among those exchanges that managed to boost their follower numbers in 2019-2020, we should mention FTX(+308%), Crypto.com (+209%), Huobi (+53%) and Binance (+26%).  This insight can be used by newly-launched exchanges that wish to use the best Twitter practices. By the way, the average posting frequency is 3 tweets per day.  


Binance and KuCoin Post on Facebook 7 Times a Day


Many exchanges have also managed to increase their Facebook audience in 2019-2020, especially Crypto.com (+470%), Binance (+99%), and KuCoin (+31%). By contrast, Huobi, which had grown its audience by 198% in 2018, added only 6% between 2019 and 2020. 

As a result of this fast growth, Facebook engagement rates have fallen somewhat: from 0.19% in 2018 to 0.16% in 2020, even though it remains twice higher than on Twitter. Crypto.com stands out in that it not only increased its number of followers by 470% but also kept the engagement rate above 1%.

On average, the top 30 exchanges post on Facebook once a day. However, Binance and KuCoin publish an average of 7 posts a day. Of course, this tactic is only justified when an exchange has enough newsworthy items. It would be unwise for an exchange to bombard its audience with posts that don't add any real value. 


YouTube Engagement Rates Have Dropped by x2.7


Crypto exchanges are now much more active on YouTube than in 2018. In the first study, only 3 exchanges had a YouTube channel listed on their site; now there are 16. The number of subscribers has grown impressively, too:

The posting frequency has also increased: from 2.3 new videos a month in 2018 to 4.3 in 2020. At the same time, engagement has slumped from 0.51% to 0.19%, or by a factor of 2.7 (though it's still more than twice higher than on Twitter). Interestingly, Instagram has the highest engagement rate at 0.76%. 

On the whole, the study shows improvements in many areas: trading volumes are growing, services are offered in more countries, exchanges are more actively interacting with their communities, and so forth. Nevertheless, there are many unsolved challenges, including ineffective email marketing and insufficient participation of CEOs in promoting their exchanges. For a detailed analysis of these issues, see the full version of the study report