While the USPS has many and obvious differences when compared with Internet companies, it could profit by adopting that industry’s view of its business as a platform, one “connecting American households and other recipients with the people that pay to reach them,” a postal IG report has said.

Like those companies, the postal platform provides three pillars for income–user experience, user engagement, and platform value—it said.

One lesson regarding customers, it said, is that “active users generate more participation by users and ultimately payers; disengaged users cause others to disengage and leave.” That is especially relevant to USPS in the current environment, it said, since households on average receive 22 percent fewer pieces than in 2004.

“Households are also disengaging from the mail as senders, sending less than half of what they used to . . . At a minimum, maintaining good service across the platform and adapting to new needs and technologies is important to keep users and payers participating on the platform,” it said. “Practices such as rewarding recipients for traveling to the mailbox and encouraging services that make the use of physical mail easy and intuitive for digital users could also improve user engagement.”

Further, it said, USPS should offer services allowing recipients to provide advertisers with their reaction to mail pieces, which would improve targeting and thus make mail more effective and more desirable for both the sender and the recipient.