Emails triggered by milestones, like anniversaries and birthdays, are fun to get -- who doesn't like to celebrate a special occasion? The beauty of anniversary emails, in particular, is that they don't require subscribers to input any extra data, and they can work for a variety of senders. Plus, the timeframe can be modified based on the business model.
Are you willing to alienate people who disagree with your opinion? Sure, not everyone who disagrees with you will unsubscribe. But if you can’t take the risk of alienating a large portion of them, it’s better to avoid the topic. The only exception are friendly disagreements. For example, it can be a good idea to show your support for a specific sport team, even if you know many in your audience like another team. As long as they don’t take the sport very seriously, it can be just a fun thing to talk about. I could, for example, tell that I’m more of a dog person (we have two dogs) than a cat person. I have nothing against cats, but I like walking with dogs. I doubt almost any cat person will hold that against me.
That isn’t to say that sales-y promotions couldn’t ever create results—as marketing “gurus” have proved. The results just aren’t as good as they could be. Take the biggest gurus’ results—the ones they boast about—and calculate their conversion rates. Often their marketing is comparatively ineffective. They just have massive volume, so the sales numbers are impressive.