Email continues to be a top-performing channel for ecommerce marketers and you, along with every other retailer, will soon be showing up in customers’ inboxes with messages of upcoming holiday sales and promotions. The best way to ensure your email is the one that gets read is to tailor the right message, to the right person, at the right time. Certainly easier said than done, but it’s well worth the efforts.

Email service provider, MailChimp, found that segmented lists improve email performance, boasting open rates 14% higher than average and click rate 15% higher. As we’re entering the busiest shopping time of the year there’s never been a better time to use your customer data to create highly segmented email communications. The following are five customer segments to consider targeting this holiday season:

The Early Birds

According to a Google Consumer Survey 30% of shoppers will begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. Take a look in your customer data to spot your early buyers from last year and make sure you grab their attention while they’re still checking names of their list. This is a great audience for your Holiday Buying Guide and will be best paired with a message that taps into their desire to beat the holiday rush and finish their shopping as soon as possible.

The Holiday Shoppers

Holiday shoppers can be fickle and quite price conscious. In the same survey mentioned above, 40% of shoppers cite price as a reason for their lack of loyalty during the holidays and 22% say the reason is that they’re looking for a bigger selection. Find customers who bought from you during last year’s holiday season, and haven’t been back since, and get in touch to highlight the deals you’re running this year.

The High Customer Lifetime Value Ballers

Our own benchmarking data revealed that top customers spend an astounding 30x more than average customers. If you’re not already calculating customer lifetime value, this is the time to do it. You want to be certain that even during the rush of the holidays you’re delivering a top-notch experience for your most valuable customers.

Once you know who your best customers are, you’re ready to give them a little VIP treatment. Reach out to let them know that you value their business and extend an exclusive offer like free-shipping on any purchase, free overnight shipping, or gift wrapping. In addition, if you’re interested in doing a little gift-giving yourself this is the group you want to target.

The Repeat Buyers

Your repeat buyers who aren’t buying over the holidays are most likely buying for themselves and they may not have considered the people in their life who would also enjoy your products. This is a perfect opportunity to garner some “referral” business by encouraging them to share what they love with someone else. This is another great audience for your Holiday Buyer’s Guide. Focus on making it as easy as possible for them to share what they love (your products) with the people they love.

The Procrastinators

There’s a group of customers who will always be buying gifts at the last-minute. The best way to find this group is by looking for the customers who spent the extra cash on expedited shipping last year. Once you know who these people are, send a friendly email reminding them that rush shipping is expensive and, if they order by X date with you, they’ll get free shipping. Pair this with countdown information and share a list of your most popular gifts so far this year. This group of procrastinators may also be particularly interested in other convenience offers such as gift wrapping or personalized recommendations. Finally, don’t forget to send one last reminder in the week leading up to Christmas. If you have the fulfillment capabilities to get customers their items in time – this is your chance to shine.

The Celebratory Shoppers

Mobile analytics company, Flurry, estimates that 17.4 million iOS and Android devices were activated on December 25, 2012. This is in sharp contrast to the 4 million devices activated during the first three weeks of the month. Combine this with the rising popularity of gift cards and post-holiday sale shopping and it’s no surprise that Christmas is becoming an increasingly important day for retailers. Last year Experian Marketing Services reported a 27% increase in online traffic to the top 500 retail sites from 2011. Find the customers who purchased from you in the week following Christmas last year and be sure that you’re first thing in their inbox when they’re ready to buy.

Your customer data holds a wealth of insight on who your customers are and how they shop. Take your segmentation strategy to the next level by looking beyond demographic data and into metrics and shopping patterns. It will take some extra work, but get it right and you’ll have a message that stands out.