Web3 Marketing Case Study: How FTX Scaled from a $7M to $32B Company in Just 36 Months

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FTX is a cryptocurrency exchange that averages $10 billion of daily trading volume and has over 6 million registered users.

From a humble beginning of generating a revenue of $7.2 million in 2019, the company grew by more than 4,000% to reach a staggering company valuation of $32 billion in just 36 months.

So, how did FTX grow so fast? 

What strategies did they apply to become the world’s second-largest crypto exchange in just three years?

In this Web3 growth marketing study, we will look at how FTX built a super successful platform that’s transforming crypto trading – with powerful marketing tips that you can adopt for your own crypto project.


TABLE OF CONTENTS: ↓


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What Does FTX Do?

FTX specializes in complex crypto derivatives, which “allow market participants to not hold the physical asset,” meaning there is no need for wallets or other complicated market infrastructure. This lets customers bet on the future price of major tokens such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

FTX offers crypto products like:

  • industry-leading derivatives
  • options and volatility products
  • tokenized stocks
  • prediction markets
  • leveraged tokens
  • and more

In short, FTX lets users buy, sell, and trade crypto with an easy-to-use platform.

FTX has become one of the most respected cryptocurrency exchanges in the world in just three years.

FTX has also launched its own utility token, known as FTT (which has seen its market value increase by 850% since the start of the year 2022):

screenshot of FTX's FTT website home page

FTX has users that break down roughly 50/50 between individual and institutional investors. Here are a few achievements from FTX that are worth noting:

  • FTX is one of the leading exchanges for buying and selling crypto derivatives and is more valuable than Twitter, stock-exchange giant Nasdaq, and Germany’s Deutsche Bank.
  • They were the fastest-growing crypto exchange company in 2021 and ahead of all competitors, such as Coinbase, Stripe and Binance.
  • FTX has received a total of $1.7 billion in funding over 7 rounds as of March 2022 (some of the leading investors include Softbank Vision Fund, Tiger Global Management, Blackstone Group, Temasek Holdings, and Lightspeed Venture Partners).
  • Their website (ftx.com) receives total monthly organic traffic of more than 700,000 via more than 77K keywords.
  • The most popular markets (trading pairs) for FTX are BTC/USD, ETH/USD, and BTC/USD. The exchange is rated “A” by Nomex, the largest crypto index, which means “Transparent.” Out of 778 exchanges, they are ranked #4 by transparency and volume.

Perhaps the most amazing fact is that founders Sam Bankman-Fried and Gary Wang grew their business efficiently in the ruthlessly competitive crypto exchange market.

Read More:
* An NFT Marketing Checklist for Your Crypto Project
* What Is Web 3.0? The Future of the Internet

8 Marketing Tips You Can Learn from FTX’s Success

Now that you have a better idea of what FTX does, the ultra competitive industry they’re in, and why their growth in Web3 is particularly remarkable, let’s take a look at the top nine marketing tips that we have learned from FTX’s incredible success.

[Tip #1] Bet on Influencers to Grow Your Project’s Brand Recognition

FTX is strongly focused on influencer marketing. To compete with more established competitors in the U.S., they ran an ad campaign featuring seven-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady and model/businesswoman Gisele Bündchen:

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FTX invested $20 million in the campaign, which began in 2021 during the NFL season kickoff game between Tampa Bay (Brady’s team) and Dallas. The campaign ran during NFL broadcasts throughout October along with digital advertising components.

The humorous ad “FTX: You in?” with Brady and Bündchen was created by the agency DentsuMB:

The idea behind collaborating with Tom and Gisele was to familiarize consumers with its technology, customer service, and offerings while competing with better-known companies like Binance, Coinbase Global Inc., and Kraken.

“We’re the newcomers to the scene,” said FTX.US President Brett Harrison, referring to the crypto services landscape in the U.S. “We knew that we had to embark on some kind of mass branding, advertising, sponsorship type work in order to be able to do that.”

And influencers + sports marketing seemed like the perfect avenue to make that happen.

In addition to football, FTX also:

  • reached out to National Basketball Association player Steph Curry to be another FTX brand ambassador
  • signed a naming rights contract for $135 million for the stadium where the NBA’s Miami Heat play, now called FTX Arena
  • reached a deal to become the official cryptocurrency exchange of Major League Baseball, which means we’ll now be seeing umpires wearing FTX logos on their uniforms
  • partnered with tennis star Naomi Osaka to focus on bringing more women onto the trading platform

And sports is not the only target demographic: FTX also reached out to beauty entrepreneur Lauren Remington Platt, founder of the high-end beauty company Vensette, where she developed brand alliances with the likes of Vogue, Chopard and Michael Kors.

Platt was hired to work on partnerships with luxury and fashion brands; since the luxury industry is worth $300 billion, FTX aims to target a new generation of high-end consumers created by crypto wealth.

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In recent years, luxury brands that got into crypto include:

  • Prada teaming up with Adidas to launch an NFT
  • Ralph Lauren opening 24/7 digital stores in the Roblox metaverse
  • Gucci joining forces with Superplastic to offer limited-edition NFTs

Thus, for FTX, Platt’s experience in the fashion and luxury industry is crucial for the next phase of growth of the FTX team partnership and branding focus.

And if you’re thinking, “Well good for FTX, but we can’t afford Tom Brady,” don’t worry! While FTX chose to swing for the fences with A-list influencers, plenty of successful crypto projects have started out with micro influencers to gain traction.

Click the link below to learn more about finding the right influencer for your project 👇

Learn More: Influencer Marketing Strategy: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Business with Brand Partnerships

[Tip #2]: Build a Powerful Community in Web3 (Using This “Omnichannel” Strategy)

Community building is a must for Web3 growth because it helps attract new users to the exchange. Having a massive list of followers increases users’ trust and confidence in this new industry.

A community can help create a more active and engaged user base, which in turn can drive more trading activity and volume on the exchange.

FTX uses social media community-building to grow its fan base. With increased brand visibility, users are more comfortable trying the platform and recommending it to others. Social media also helps FTX create a more competitive environment, leading to lower fees and better user service.

They use Twitter, Telegram, Instagram, and other social networks to reach crypto lovers worldwide. FTX has over 665K followers on Twitter and 136K followers on Instagram. They provide regular content to their audience to educated them and keep them engaged.

By aggressively going after social media optimization and brand building, the market share of the FTX exchange grew by 600% between 2020 and 2021:

Growing a community has helped FTX gain the top position amongst competitors like Coinbase and Binance.

FTX knows that brand recognition and retention are crucial to growing the crypto exchange user base.

The community programs were designed to help members stay connected and extend support to other members seeking answers. Loyal crypto buyers and investors helped the crypto exchange propel forward with new product launches. They leveraged texts, videos and images to encourage user interaction on the top social media platforms.

Unlike many other brands, FTX kept engagement at its peak by actually replying to user comments and interacting with them.

Here are some excellent ideas for growing your social media fan base just like FTX did:

A) Announce Major Events and Updates

Announcements form a major part of FTX’s Twitter marketing strategy. They make sure to inform their followers about any major product releases and acquisitions:

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On Instagram, they announced that their valuation hit $32 billion, up from $25 billion:

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B) Encourage Conversation Among Your Audience

It’s easy to get the conversation going about your brand or your product:

  • Ask questions in your posts to make your followers more inclined to comment.
  • Organize online streaming events via group chats where users are able to send you messages or questions, and you can provide instant replies to them.
  • Host specific online meet-ups for your followers to increase the levels of engagement.

FTX used influencers to ask their followers questions about crypto. The response was immediate, and it helped them gain instant traction.

Here is an example of how FTX used American professional basketball player Stephen Curry in a video to encourage people to try crypto trading. The tweet has 799 replies and 2.9K likes.

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C) Combine Social Channels

One of the most effective ways to increase your social media engagement is by combining the power of different social media platforms.

FTX has its presence on most of the leading social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Discord and Telegram. They have a massive following of loyal crypto enthusiasts who actively engage with the social media posts of the one of the world’s top crypto exchanges.

This is the power of omnichannel marketing.

An omnichannel customer experience consists of individual touchpoints on multiple marketing channels, like email, phone, SMS, social media and even in-store. Omnichannel refers to a cohesive customer experience across all these channels, regardless of where the customer leaves off and picks back up.

In contrast with traditional methods of advertising, omnichannel forces the brand to go to where their customers or leads are, rather than making the customer come to them.

D) Leverage the Power of PR

To build a fanbase, public relations is super important. Try to create a positive and effective public image just like Sam Bankman-Fried. Early on, he was accepting opportunities for interviews that helped him get his name out there and into the social search bar.

To do this, it’s important to establish contacts in the press and media, and go to local events to get your name in the right place. It will help you get maximum exposure for your name, your brand and your product or service. With cryptocurrency, this is especially crucial because the industry is still so new that many people are skeptical about it.

Case in point: When FTX was looking to expand in Africa, Bankman-Fried was worried that no one had ever heard of FTX for crypto trading:

“We’ve been around for two and a half years. That’s a lot less long than some of the other big names in the crypto exchange business. When someone’s looking to get involved in crypto for the first time, we’ve found that they haven’t heard of FTX.”

Hence, FTX hired Harrison Obiefule as their PR manager in July 2021 to make some noise for the company…

FTX PR manager Harrison Obiefule LinkedIn page

…which almost immediately led to more traffic and referring domains:

FTX traffic via Ahrefs graph

E) Use Contests to Grow Your Fan Base

Contests are a great way to persuade people to try their luck in crypto and NFTs. FTX uses contests as bait to encourage people to respond to their posts and participate in their offerings.

In one such contest, FTX gave away 6 NFTs worth $11,000:

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[Tip #3]: Simplify Your Messaging to Make It Easy for Your Target Users to Understand Your Project

Crypto can be tough to grasp. Especially for beginners.

To make crypto easy to understand, FTX has brilliantly created product education in collaboration with popular creators to explain their product clearly and in a layperson’s language.

To break the ice between FTX and people just getting to know about crypto, the brand launched an initiative called “Not an Expert”:

screenshot of FTX crypto in 60 seconds web page

They use influencers, both micro and macro, to create short educational videos that grab the attention of audiences who are not crypto experts.

The prominent feature of this initiative is their 60-second videos that explain the basic concepts in the cryptocurrency niche, as with this one from Erika Kullberg who explains bitcoin:

Some other influencers with whom FTX has collaborated to create explainer videos for its audiences are:

  • Kyla Scanlon, founder, Bread, explaining stablecoins and three core functions of money in under a minute.
  • Humphrey Yang, independent video creator explaining smart contracts.
  • Kayla Kilbride, co-founder, TheDropNFT, explaining the metaverse.
  • Duke Alexander Moore, TikTok tax expert, presenting the difference between short-term and long-term capital gains.
  • Daniel Iles, YouTuber and TikTok influencer, explaining the difference between hot and cold wallets.
  • Austin Hankwitz, co-founder, Witz explaining DeFi.
  • Patrick Kim, founder and CEO, Worth Network Inc, explaining play-to-earn (p2e) games.
  • Tejas Hullur, YouTuber and digital creator, presenting bitcoin’s origin story.
  • Adi Adara, investment analyst, Brown Venture Group, explaining blockchain.
  • Danny Devan, finance influencer, explaining the difference between bull and bear markets.

In addition, one can always download the FTX App and get industry-defining news and updates directly from top project teams.

Moreover, FTX also has a blog populated with content that teaches about crypto, NFT, etc., including:

  • A market recap to educate the crypto community about the ups and downs of cryptocurrencies.
  • Company news and events.
  • A monthly digest downloadable in a PDF format containing a list of activities or changes that FTX did to improve the user experience.
  • A collection of videos and podcasts to grab the attention of the audiences and keep them informed and encouraged to continue investing in cryptocurrencies.

FTX blog page

Content marketing helps convert prospects into customers because it allows businesses to showcase their products and services in an informative and exciting way. FTX uses intelligent content marketing to reach prospects at different buyer journey stages that include persuasive CTAs to invite actions from site visitors. 

A compelling call to action is also helpful in converting prospects into customers because it provides a clear and concise way for businesses to tell their audience what they should do next (“Learn More,” “Sign Up Here,” “Download Your Free XYZ,” “Buy Now”).

Here is an example of a CTA on the FTX website:

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By using the words “Join the team” along with pictures of influencers, FTX does a great job attracting Millenial and Gen Z audiences. The CTA “create a free account” makes it easier for people to sign up because they don’t need to pay anything to join.

One of the major reasons why people aren’t interested in crypto trading is because they find it difficult.

Hence, FTX uses the words “the easiest way to start trading crypto” to keep it simple and minimize bottlenecks:

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Tip #4: Meet Your Prospects Where They Are (Emotionally)

FTX partnered with comedian Larry David as a part of a campaign right before the Super Bowl half-time show on NBC for the 60-second spot titled “Don’t Miss Out”:

In this skit, Larry David played a version of himself (well-known to fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm) as a time-traveling skeptic who scoffs at inventions like the wheel, forks, the toilet, lightbulbs, and portable music players.

Towards the end of the ad, David is seated behind a desk being pitched FTX as a safe and easy way to get into crypto. “Ehhh, I don’t think so,” he says. “And I’m never wrong about this stuff. Never.”

Because David is a notorious cynic who has never been in an ad before, this ad aims to promote cryptocurrency adoption to skeptical people about the digital currency sphere.

David’s longtime creative collaborator and close friend Jeff Schaffer told the Hollywood Reporter that “endless” ad suitors had approached them over the years. Still, negotiations inevitably went south when they tried to punch up concepts.

However, when ad agency dentsuMB floated the idea of David playing a time-traveling idiot, it was too perfect to pass up.

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[Tip #5]: Design an Irresistible Offer to Persuade Users to Sign Up for Your Project

Want to see better results with your own web3 marketing overnight? Offer something to persuade people to sign up for your service — just like FTX who provides free and exclusive merchandise to the platform’s users.

The exchange also hosts competitions with attractive prizes.

For instance, FTX hosted a “100 eth” competition for the top three traders on their platform in January 2020 in which they offered futures and options on cryptocurrencies, altcoins, leveraged tokens, stablecoins, indices, etc.

FTX launched its native token FTT in 2019 and introduced tokenized BTC, a synthetic asset that tracks the price of bitcoin. FTX is one of the few exchanges that offer leveraged tokens, which are ERC-20 tokens that have leverage built into them. For instance, a 3x long bitcoin token (bull-3x) gives the holder 3x exposure to bitcoin’s price movement.

FTX is available for both United States and International users, so for people outside the U.S., FTX gives a free surprise coin or token on every trade over $10:

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Therefore, it makes sense to sign up with a free FTX account and take advantage of those rewards if you are looking for ways to collect more crypto and are already spending money online purchasing/trading crypto.

Also, there is no limit to the number of coins you will receive after each trade over $10. After qualifying transactions of $10 or more, you will receive a message as tokens are awarded. After that, they will be deposited into your account. The coin you get is chosen randomly, and you may not receive the same tokens as others or as previous times you traded.

[Tip #6]: Maximize Paid Search Ads to Drive User Sign-Ups

Running search ads is a great way for the crypto exchange industry to increase brand awareness because PPC ads have high response rates.

Google Ads are one of the most proven methods to acquire new users and can attract users with high “sign-up intent” to help increase conversion rates.

Here is an example of a PPC ad by FTX that emphasizes how easy it is for the audience to begin crypto trading:

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Notice the headline – “Crypto Investing Made Simple: Easiest Way to Start Trading” – which makes it much more inviting for those who are uncertain to begin their crypto journey.

In the ad copy below the headline, they state a timeline – “less than 3 mins!” – for crypto trading to initiate a faster conversion. With exceptional copywriting, this specific and very short time investment encourages everyone to start trading crypto because they only ask for 3 minutes.

Can you test a similar value proposition in your own project’s ads?

Learn More:
* How to Improve E-Commerce Landing Pages with Paid Ads Data
* 22 Alternative Ad Networks for Best PPC Conversions in 2022
* Ecommerce Advertising Strategy: How We Doubled PPC Sales for ThinSlim Foods (with a 3X+ ROAS)

[Tip #7]: Use Undeniable Trust Signals to Boost Your Site’s Conversion Rate

There are several ways that a brand can use trust signals to increase conversions:

  • Display customer testimonials or reviews on their website or product pages.
  • Offer customers a money-back guarantee or free returns/exchanges (otherwise known as “risk reversal” in copywriting).

FTX crypto exchange uses several clear signals to increase trust and build strong customer relationships. One of the most important trust signals is transparency.

For example, FTX offers the FTX card, which lets users start trading crypto with millions of merchants worldwide with zero fees. The card is free and provides the highest security standards to keep your funds safe.

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FTX is transparent about its operations, providing regular updates and information about its activities via press releases and Twitter updates. This helps build trust with customers, who can see that the exchange is open and honest about its business.

Another key trust signal is security. FTX has implemented several security measures to protect its customers’ assets. It uses cold storage for all customer funds and employs multiple layers of security, including 2FA and IP whitelisting. These measures help reassure customers that their funds are safe and secure.

FTX has built a strong reputation in the industry. It is one of the most popular and well-respected crypto exchanges and has received lots of positive user reviews. 

This helps build trust with potential customers, who can see that others have had positive experiences with the exchange — helping to fuel FTX’s hyper-growth to over 6 million users.

[Tip #8]: Donate to Nonprofits to Earn Customers’ Respect

Corporate philanthropy has been a hazy topic for many decades.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) does not only comprise of donations for civic causes. Cause-related marketing goes beyond one-time donations and creates a partnership between the corporation and the non-profit organization.

Cause marketing has always reaped many benefits from corporations like:

  • Elevated brand loyalty
  • Positive brand image
  • Differentiates from competition
  • Increase brand awareness

FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has pledged to donate the better portion of his assets (dollar or Bitcoin) to non-profit and charitable organizations. He says that he’ll keep just 1% of his assets – which is still enough to live a comfortable life (about $100,000 per year).

His friends describe him as a strange sort of capitalist monk. Stemming from the effective altruism principle, Bankman-Fried has already garnered interest in his philosophy “Earn big to give big.”

Here are the steps taken by FTX to donate to nonprofits:

A) Launched FTX Foundation

When Bankman-Fried and Wang started FTX, their main objective was to have the largest positive impact on the world. FTX and its affiliates have donated millions to charitable causes since 2020. In addition to Bankman-Fried, other FTX members have pledged to donate most of what they make.

In 2021, they started the FTX Foundation to make the world a better place. Their mission is to reduce extreme global poverty, reduce animal suffering, combat climate change, and improve humanity’s long-term prospects.

FTX Foundation also promises that FTX users will have a say in where its funds will be donated. Currently, the foundation has allocated 1% of FTX’s revenue from the fees.

B) Hired Gisele Bündchen as Head of Environmental and Social Initiatives

FTX recently announced that supermodel Gisele Bündchen is now the FTX Head of Environmental and Social Initiatives. Her role is to connect FTX with charities that can have the broadest impact.

Image may contain Human Person Gisele Bündchen Clothing Apparel Text and Sleeve

Bankman-Fried shares the supermodel’s passion for philanthropy and organizations focused on combating poverty, protecting wildlife, and safeguarding the environment for future generations, so this was a perfect role for Bündchen.

C) Donated to the Ukraine Government

The Ukraine government partnered with FTX and launched an official website to accept cryptocurrency donations for the Ukrainian armed forces and humanitarian aid programs.

The page Aid for Ukraine on the Ukraine government website is a collaboration between the country’s Ministry of Digital Transformation, U.S. cryptocurrency exchange FTX, staking provider Everstake and Ukraine exchange Kuna.

screenshot of FTX and Ukraine crypto donations web page

As of March 2022, the site has raised around $60 million of its $200 million goal. It accepts Bitcoin, Ethereum, Polkadot, Solana, Tether, and Dogecoin, as well as a couple of lesser-known currencies, such as ICON and Casper.

FTX is converting all cryptocurrency received into fiat and sending it to the National Bank of Ukraine.

Giving back is a winning marketing strategy that FTX applies with significant effect. Finding a cause or charity is an excellent strategy because customers love companies that give back: 85% of consumers prefer businesses that support a charity.

Learn More: How a Brand Persona Plays Into Effective ROI

8 Marketing Takeaways from FTX’s Incredible Growth from a $7M to a $32B Company

FTX has formulated an effective marketing strategy that has helped the brand become a top crypto exchange in an impressively short period of time.

The company has focused on providing a comprehensive and user-friendly platform that meets the needs of both experienced and novice traders.

They built products for traders by traders, such as leveraged tokens and tokenized stocks, they used a token to incentivize early customer acquisition since switching costs are high, and they picked the right Layer 1 blockchain to help scale a DeFi ecosystem around Solana.

Here are the 8 marketing takeaways from FTX’s growth strategy:

  • Collaborate with A-list influencers or micro influencers (depending on your budget) to gain project/brand visibility, and branch out into industries that aren’t necessarily related to yours. FTX partnered with a high-end beauty company to reach a new audience.
  • Community building is particularly crucial for your crypto exchange because a community helps create a more active and engaged user base. Build a community with an omnichannel strategy, because this provides a broader user experience across all channels, regardless of where a prospect leaves off and picks back up. FTX has a presence on most of the leading social media platforms with a massive following of loyal crypto enthusiasts who actively engage with their posts.
  • Crypto can be tough to grasp, so make it easy for your target users to understand your project. FTX created product education in collaboration with popular creators to explain their product clearly and in a layperson’s language.
  • Anticipate the questions, confusion or skepticism so that you can meet your prospects where they are emotionally and answer their questions before they even ask them. To achieve this, FTX collaborated with the perfect skeptic: Larry David. They created a video ad that promoted cryptocurrency adoption to those people who were skeptical about the digital currency sphere. 
  • If you want to see quick results with your own marketing strategy, offer something sweet to persuade people to sign up for your service or buy your product. FTX provides free and exclusive merchandise to the platform’s users, as well as hosts competitions with attractive prizes. Nothing gets people to take action as quickly as when they’re offered free/valuable stuff.
  • Run search ads to increase brand awareness in the crypto exchange industry because PPC ads have high response rates. FTX runs PPC ads with exceptional copywriting that emphasize how easy it is for newbies to begin crypto trading in just three minutes. Hard to resist. 
  • One of the most important trust signals is transparency, so display customer testimonials or reviews on your website or product pages. You can also offer customers a money-back guarantee or free returns/exchanges (known as “risk reversal” in copywriting). FTX uses several clear signals to increase trust and build strong customer relationships. When people trust your brand, they’re much more likely to buy from you. 
  • Give back to the community, because now, more than ever, people like to know that brands they buy from are socially aware. This is called cause marketing, which provides many benefits such as elevated brand loyalty, positive brand image and differentiating yourself from the competition. FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has pledged to donate the better portion of his assets (dollar or Bitcoin) to nonprofit and charitable organizations.

I hope this Web3 growth study helped you learn about the marketing tactics FTX used to acquire more users to their crypto trading platform. You can take inspiration from their strategy to start your next big Web3 business venture.

If you want to promote your business by partnering with a top Web3 agency, Single Grain can take your brand to the next level. 👇

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