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In Star Trek: Voyager episode, Coda, Janeway and Chakotay find themselves in a "Groundhog Day Loop", at the end of which they get killed and reset back to the earlier point.

As it turns out this was all an illusion created by an alien being to convince Janeway she had actually died (during the first iteration of the loop) and was now a ghost who just had to cross over to the other side...

The second half of the alien's plan makes sense. He posed as her father's ghost and had her hallucinate a memorial service, a coffin being launched into space, and all that, having her crew agreeing to get on with things, etc. all designed to convince her to let go of the mortal world and step into his lair.

But what was the point of the first half? i.e. the whole time-loop situation? It seems this would achieve the opposite of the alien's goal. It introduced a mystery element - the idea that something wasn't right, as well as giving Janeway hope that the situation could be resolved. e.g. why have Chakotay appear to revive her if the alien-father wanted to make her accept she was dead? And then when she was finally killed again (within the illusion), revive her again and again at the start of a time loop?

Surely it would have been better and more convincing just to go straight to the "You're dead, accept it" bit.

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I can't think of a good in-universe reason. You're correct in that it doesn't make much sense.

Out of universe, I think this quote from Executive Producer Jeri Taylor about how the story was developed explains it

"It was a combination of several threads of ideas that we had been kicking around. None of them seemed to be working on their own. Then we began cobbling them together, and all of a sudden we had this wonderful, rich mystery."

So they had a bunch of random ideas and just threw them together.

According to the episode listing on Memory Alpha, that quote comes from Cinefantastique, magazine Vol. 29, No. 6/7. But I can't find a digital version to confirm that.

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I am fairly certain the soul eating aliens are never revisited in canon so any answer is speculative

It has been awhile since I watched the episode in question however the simplest answer would be the alien entity had never encountered humans before and had to adjust itself to Janeways brain the looping experience was simply a manifestation of this adjustment

Honestly though its possible there was no entity trying to eat her "soul" and the entire experience including the time loop and the Patrick Swayze impersonation was a product of a normal alien parasite doing normal alien parasite things and causing weird hallucinations

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