McDonald's said its strong third quarter results were in part driven by digital sales and more than 57 million 90-day active members in its MyMcDonald's rewards program.

The restaurant chain, which handily topped expectations with its third quarter earnings report, highlights how digital customer experiences are building a moat around core franchises. For the third quarter ended Sept. 30, McDonald's reported revenue of $6.7 billion with net income of $2.3 billion, or $3.17 a share. Same store sales in the third quarter were up 8.8%.

In McDonald's top six markets, digital sales were more than 40% of system wide sales. That scale is creating a data flywheel that drives engagement,” said CFO Ian Borden, speaking on the company's earnings conference call. For comparison, Starbucks said August 1 that its 90-day active Starbucks Rewards customers grew to nearly 75 million with 31.4 million in the US. Domino's Pizza and a host of other quick service restaurants are trying to create their own data and digital experience flywheels. 

Borden said:

"We now have over 57 million 90-day active members across these top markets, and our relationship with them continues to grow. We're learning when they visit, how they visit, and what they buy, with more and more of our sales coming through identified channels than ever before."

Borden said that elevating McDonald's digit experience is improving loyalty and "driving those incremental visits that we believe would otherwise go uncaptured."

McDonald's has been deploying digital campaigns across social, streaming and content around core promotions such as Monopoly and big events like FIFA Women's World Cup. The company's plan revolves around providing value to core customers trying to navigate an uncertain economy.

Borden said it will continue to invest in its technology and digital footprint. "We've got a fully modernized estate. We've got a digital platform that's coming to life at a scale that's allowing us to really interact with our consumers on a much more individual basis," said Borden.