A coupon is offering a discount like a 2 for 1 or 25% off.
When you offer an incentive, it's like a sample at the grocery store,
they are trying to get you to purchase an item based on a connection with the product.
Now, if you could run around and offer everyone a sample from your restaurant, you would get more guests. However, the return on that investment is probably not beneficial.
So what's the next best thing. Offer a sample on your website. Give away your best appetizer or dessert. The one that you know will make the guest come back for seconds. The only stipulation is that they get contact information in return.
Now you could win twice.
1. You have contact information, and you can market directly to someone who expressed interest in visiting your restaurant.
2. If they take you up on your sample, that means they visited the restaurant. Chances are they purchase a meal and will come back again.
The benefits of developing an incentive based email program are better than any other marketing strategy.