Growth hacking, or the nuanced use of online marketing techniques to help grow and scale a business, has become a wildly popular trend on the forefront of every startup founder’s mind. Even so, many entrepreneurs aren’t sure how to actually leverage it properly. Many companies push forward and hire people to focus on growth hacking without a plan in place. As a result, they grow too fast to manage and fail as a result.

If your growth hacking strategy isn’t bringing in profit, then it means you’re not doing it right. There are responsible ways to use growth hacking while still keeping an eye on your expenses, cash flow and profit. Here are 10 growth hacks that will boost your profits without killing your business.

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Employee-Focused Referral Programs

Hacking | by wmriceStudies show that there’s only a 2 to 8% overlap between your employees’ social networks and the company social networks. This means that you may be missing a golden promotional opportunity. For example, IBM discovered leads that came from employee referrals via social marketing converted seven times more frequently (PDF) than other leads. By implementing an employee-focused program that rewards referrals, you can develop very high-quality leads and boost profits without investing in expensive advertising and marketing campaigns.

Encourage Happy Customers to Share

Fostering a group of brand advocates is an effective way to growth hack your way to profits and downplay costs. Happy customers don’t necessarily need—or even want—direct compensation. Instead, they want to be part of your success.

Encourage your advocates to leave online reviews, share their great experience with their networks and become repeat customers. Give your sales a boost without spending more by emphasizing word of mouth as part of your growth hacking campaign. Some 74% of consumers rely on word of mouth as the top influencer of their purchasing decisions.

Connect With Influencers to Spread the Word

Influencers are valued for their loyal followers who are ready and willing to listen. Companies can forge relationships with influencers in their industry to help promote services and products, so include them in your word-of-mouth strategies.

Studies show that marketing-induced word-of-mouth programs generate twice the sales of paid advertising. But there’s more good news. They also retain at a 37% higher rate. Higher sales added to higher retention means more profit. To find influencers that are a match for your products and services, try Content Marketer, which will help you look up the contact information for anyone in your industry.

Automate Existing Technology

Save time and money by leveraging existing technology to automate the process. Whether you automate your social networking or email campaigns, put the processes on autopilot to growth hack your way to more profit. Leverage automated services like Edgar, HootSuite, Aweber and MailChimp to stay connected with your customers while freeing up more of your time to focus on other areas, like customer service.

Focus on Exemplary Customer Service

Some business owners forget that a sale doesn't stop at the end of the profit cycle, and consequently neglectcustomer service. An overzealous embrace of growth hacking only exacerbates this oversight, so make sure you haven't forgotten about it. Alex Schulz, VP of Growth for Facebook, said, “Retention is the single most important thing for growth.” And if it’s good enough for the most popular social network on the web, there’s a good chance his advice will work for your business as well.

To improve your customer experience, use a tool like LeadChat to increase conversions and provide great support. Doing so will help you grow your customer base while keeping it in your sales cycle.

Create Viral Content

“Create viral content” sounds a little like “go find a unicorn,” but the truth is that there are data-focused ways to create content that is much more likely to go viral. Any video or image you create should be remarkable, emotional and easy to share. It should make people feel like they’re part of something special and compel them to spread the word.

Your content should also be useful and add value to the viewer. If you’re honest with yourself, I’d be willing to bet that at least some of the content you’re putting out under your brand’s name doesn’t meet these criteria.Get viral content right and watch your brand awareness boost profit literally overnight.

Take Advantage of FOMO

“FOMO,” or the fear of missing out, is a powerful motivator. Surveys show that 56% of social media users are afraid of missing out on events, important updates and news if they stay off of social media. By creating brand content that focuses on exclusivity and limited-time contests or offers, you can leverage people’s FOMO to build buzz around your products, increase visibility and boost profit.

 Market With Consistent, High-Quality Content

Content marketing is a long-term strategy that may not feel like a growth hack, but it really is. Use consistent, high-quality content marketing as a base to draw in customers and reinforce your other strategies and techniques. High-quality content marketing becomes an integral part of your growth hacking strategy when you use content to target the right people, address visitors at all levels of your funnel and fill your content with quality calls-to-action.

Offer Something for Free

When used carefully, offering a free product or service can be a powerful strategy for growth hacking. People love free stuff, and it’s easy to generate buzz and grab attention and traffic with a compelling offer. Remember, however, that you need to design your offer strategically and fold it into part of your sales funnel. Otherwise, you risk spending all your time and resources on a project that will fail to produce returns.

Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

One of the most important parts of increasing profit is to never invent the wheel twice. That principle applies to systems, content, campaigns and more.